Mystics breakaway from gallant Tactix

IN what was a much tighter ANZ Premiership contest than a week earlier between the same opponents, Northern Mystics broke away from Mainland Tactix to secure the 11-goal victory. Eight goals closer than the 19-goal runaway win from the ladder leaders last week, the Tactix put up a fight, but the Mystics proved too strong, and an inspiration performance from wing attack Elisapeta Toeava proved the difference. With not much separating the sides in the middle two quarters – the Tactix won by a goal – the MysticsThe M took control in the first and fourth terms to create 12 goals of separation leading to the 69-58 win.

MAINLAND TACTIX 13 | 17 | 17 | 11 (58)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 18 | 16 | 17 | 18 (69)

Northern Mystics started off in some good form as Grace Nweke piled on the first three goals of the game – picking up second chances from two of them. Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird woke up from their slumber to score in the third minute and keep within two, but a crucial Selby-Rickit miss saw Nweke and then Monica Falkner score three consecutive goals to again extend it out to five. That margin was held to the first break, with Toeava nailing seven goal assists from nine feeds, and Falkner (four goal assists, three goals from three attempts) and Nweke (15 from 17) all starting off strong. Bird (seven from nine) and Selby-Rickit (six from seven) were trying to keep up, whilst Samon Nathan had a team-high five goal assists.

The only change in the first quarter was Kate Lloyd replacing Kelera Nawai-Caucau with Nweke getting on top in that match up. The pair would switch again midway through the third term, whilst the Mystics would only swap Falkner and Filda Vui at goal attack, and Carys Stythe and Phoenix Karaka in goal defence, through the third term. Over the next two quarters there was not much to be gained as the Tactix won the second term 17-16, then both teams broke even with 17 goals apiece in the third. Still holding a four-goal buffer heading into the final break, the Mystics were on top.

After keeping the deficit at five goals in the opening six minutes, the Tactix made a couple of crucial mistakes, and Nweke piled on the next our consecutive goals to blow the lead out to nine. Lloyd came onto goal defence in the eighth minute, with the seven on court shuffling positions as Karin Burger (goal defence to wing defence), Charlotte Elley (wing defence to centre) and Kimiora Poi (centre to wing attack) all moving up a bib, whilst Nathan came off. The Mystics also made some changes, but the biggest was Nweke limping off with an ankle injury, forcing Falkner and Vui to be the pair inside the goal circle. Toeava, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Sulu Fitzpatrick also came off, with Karaka, Fa’amu Ioane and Claire O’Brien coming on.

Despite Nweke’s injury, the Mystics had built enough of a lead, and even extended on it in the following few minutes since Nweke’s departure, going out to 11 goals. They held that advantage until the final siren, winning 69-58. Toeava had a match-high 27 goal assists from 36 feeds in the win to earn Most Valuable Player (MVP), whilst also picking up an intercept. Tayla Earle recorded the 21 goal assists for the Mystics, whilst Nweke totalled 52 goals from 55 attempts and four rebounds. Falkner (10 goals from 13 attempts and eight goal assists) and Vui (seven from 12 and three goal assists). Nathan had 21 goal assists from 39 attempts from the Tactix, feeding through to Bird (38 goals from 40 attempts) and Selby-Rickit (20 from 24, and 19 goal assists). Poi had the 15 goal assists from 31 feeds, whilst Elley and Nawai-Caucau picked up an assist each.

Mainland Tactix take on Southern Steel today, whilst Northern Mystics lock horns with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic tomorrow.

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