FINISHING fifth on the 2022 ANZ Premiership ladder, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic did not quite click this year despite having a big off-season in terms of recruiting. The Magic won four games from their 15 games – the least amount of wins of any side – but finished above Mainland Tactix due to a higher goal difference and therefore percentage. The Magic also picked up four bonus points during the season which helped them tally up 16 for the season, the same amount as the Tactix.
Goals For: 733 (6th)
Goals Against: 803 (3rd)
Goal Difference: -70 (5th)
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic’s defensive structures for one. They conceded 803 goals for the season, at an average of 53.5 to rank third behind the two grand finalists. It gives the club confidence going forward that its defensive structures stand up, headlined by Erena Mikaere who ranked fourth in rebounds (20) and sixth in deflections (60). She teamed up well with the retired Leana de Bruin who returned, and of course Silver Ferns midcourters Claire Kersten and Samantha Winders rolling through there. Defensively, the Magic were right on. Additionally, two of their four wins came in the last three rounds of the season, with the team back at full-strength showing what they could have been capable of.
Once the Silver Ferns duo of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Bailey Mes were able to combine for a full game in the second half of the season, it showed the Magic’s potential. The pair both ended up finishing in the Top 10 shooters for the season despite missing portions earlier in the year, with Mes (330 goals at 77 per cent) and Ekenasio (258 at 85 per cent) were both sensational once they got clicking. A full season of that duo next year is one to behold.
Unfortunately not having the Silver Ferns combination for full games for the entire season hurt. The inexperience when Ekenasio and Mes were not out there in the front half of the court was what cost the Magic, though blooding the likes of Ivana Rowland and Simmon Wilbore hold them in good stead for the future. Whilst stating the obvious, picking up some more wins in those tighter games could have changed the story of the season as well.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic can springboard off their 2022 season, with some promising signs in the second half of the year. They showed they can score, they can hold up defensively, and have talent through the midcourt, so there is plenty to like despite only picking up the four wins this year.