Bottom beats top in Magical win

IT was the result no-one saw coming. Last placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic sitting at 1-8 for the season going up against the ladder-leading Northern Mystics (9-2) at the Mystics home court in Round 10 of the ANZ Premiership season. Few gave the Magic any sort of chance, given they could not quite get everything to click, whilst the Mystics were firing on all cylinders. Despite being down with two minutes on the clock, the visitors found something, as Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes fired off the last three goals of the game to put her side in front and win by one, 48-47.

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 12 | 11 (47)
WBOP MAGIC 12 | 12 | 10 | 14 (48)

In what was a nail-biting contest throughout, the lead for either side never got beyond four goals, with the Magic largely leading for the entirety of the first half – bar a late surge by the Mystics – and the home side up for most of the run home. In one of the games of the year, both sides were able to create scoring opportunities from different ways, with the Magic punishing the normally clean Mystics off turnovers, scoring six goals to three from the opposition’s mistakes. The Mystics on the other hand capitalised off their own gains (20-15), scoring 13 goals to eight.

Northern Mystics have largely been a clean team throughout the season, but put up 23 general play turnovers to the Magic’s 15, and also committed more penalties (45-41). The long-range shooting of the Magic – largely thanks to super shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio and her partner in crime Mes, put up 10 of 16 from the circle edge, whilst the Mystics were shooting all bar three shots from inside the three metres. The impact of not having the injured Grace Nweke was clear, with Monica Falkner (16 goals from 19 attempts and eight gaol assists) largely pairing with Filda Vui (29 from 34). Meanwhile, Mes (29 from 39) and Ekenasio (19 from 26) both struggled with inaccuracy in a game the Magic could have put away sooner.

All up, the Magic had 65 attempts for 48 goals, nine more attempts than the Mystics thanks to a ridiculous amount of work from Samantha Winders in the centre with 19 goal assists. Though the Magic had more scoring opportunities, the Mystics had 106 feeds to 86, with Elisapeta Toeava (19 goal assists from 48 feeds) and Tayla Earle (11 from 37) topping those charts. Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka pulled down 10 rebounds for the Mystics, and Fitzpatrick had three intercepts, but it was Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere who earned Most Valuable player (MVP) for the night, managing seven deflections, five gains and two intercepts in the win.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic do not have to wait long for their next game, taking on Southern Steel tomorrow back at home, whilst the Northern Mystics lock horns with Mainland Tactix on Saturday in a Round 4 postponed game.

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