Magical start topples reigning premiers

AN incredible start from Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic has seen the home team secure an important three-goal win over Northern Mystics to kick off the Magic’s 2022 ANZ Premiership campaign. The Magic flew out of the blocks to race to an eight-goal quarter time lead, and then despite the Mystics hitting back in the second term, the home side was able to steady and hold on for the 46-43 victory.

Opening the ANZ Premiership season, the Magic hosted the reigning premiers in a battle of last year’s bookends. With plenty of high profile recruits – though some such as Ameliaranne Ekenasio were not to play in the early matches – it was fair to say the optimism in the Magic camp was high. That optimism was founded, with the Magic piling on 17 goals to nine in the opening term to race out to an eight-goal lead.

Silver Ferns shooter and recruit Bailey Mes shot 10 goals from 11 attempts, and provided three goal assists and even an assist in the opening quarter, teaming up well with Ivana Rowland (seven goals from eight attempts). The Magic were dominating the midcourt with 34 feeds to 14, and scoring off a 50 per cent clip. Whilst the Mystics were too, they simply were not getting the same opportunities as their opponents.

The second term swung back the other way, with the Mystics putting up 14 goals to nine to cut the half-time deficit to just three. Monica Falkner made all eight of her attempts, whilst Elisapeta Toeava and Tayla Earle were starting to get cooking in the midcourt.

The Mystics actually scored the first two goals of the third term to cut the deficit to one, but then the Magic steadied to get get back on top. At one stage in the final five minutes, the combination of Ivana Rowland and Brooke Leaver scored five out of six goals, and the lead was out to five. Yet again the Mystics steadied to reduce it back to four, but it was Rowland (eight goals from nine attempts) who was really standing out.

The final term saw an early goal-for-goal tempo, but back-to-back misses from Leaver in the opening few minutes resulted in the Mystics capitalising and scoring three consecutive goals to level the match at 38 goals apiece. The Magic got back on top with three consecutive goals of their own – and eight of the next 10 to blow it right ou to a six-goal difference with three minutes on the clock. Though the Mystics were able to cut it back to a three-goal final margin – and winning the last term 10-9 – it would not be enough.

Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere earned Player of the Match for her consistency across the four quarters, picking up two intercepts and two rebounds, and making life difficult for opposition shooter Filda Vui (26 goals from 32 attempts). Rowland scored 26 goals from 30 attempts, with Mes rested on limited minutes, just scoring the 10 of 11 in that one quarter. Simmon Wilbore picked up a match-high 16 goal assists off 33 feeds, to be another standout in the win. Falkner did not miss a shot from her 17 attempts for the reigning premiers, as Toeava (13 goal assists from 21 feeds) and Earle (11 from 17) both working hard through the midcourt.

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