Mystics continue winning form and keep Magic planted to bottom of the ladder

A DOMINANT final quarter gifted Northern Mystics the win as they toppled Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by five goals (68-63). There were a couple of key figures that retuned to both sides as Khiarna Williams and Tayla Earle both made their way back onto the court for their respective teams after being sidelined with injury.

Grace Nweke quickly opened the account for the Northern Mystics to set the tone for her side who were keen to keep their winning ways happening. But after coming close last week, the Magic came out with a point to prove piling on three goals straight as Chiara Semple and Caitlin Bassett both combined seamlessly in the goal circle to create some real attacking momentum. The Mystics showed their class to hit back as Peta Toeava carved up the attacking third to find circle edge as Bailey Mes showed her ability to go to post. the scores were quickly tied up with the game shaping up to be a real tight battle. Midway through the term the intensity lifted a gear as Waikato Bay of Plenty went on a goal scoring spree nailing seven goals straight and forcing the Mystics to play catch-up netball with Sam Winders leading the charge through the centre third. Semple picked up where she left of last round with her sweet timing and hot handing causing all sorts of trouble for Kate Burley early on.

This momentum was short lived for the Magic as the Mystics steadily pegged their way back into the contest largely off the hand of Nweke. The towering goal shooter started to find some good space inside the circle bodying up nicely against Temalisi Fakahokotau and using her extra height to advantage. Toeava was a real lynchpin through the midcourt combining with the returning Earle as the duo used their vision to bypass the defence. But the Magic continued to find a way to keep their noses in front, scoring off their centre passes and staying composed to hold a two goal lead heading into quarter time.

The high tempo first term carried into the second quarter as both sides went full pelt on the scoring front. Bassett kicked things off early for the Magic with back to back goals as the two goal buffer turned into a four goal lead. it then turned into a goal for goal style with neither side willing to give up ball and working hard to treasure possession. But an inspired effort from Nweke saw the Mystics rally in attack as she single-handedly kept the side in it. Increased efforts from Sulu Fitzpatrick and Burley down back proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mystics as they forged ahead and stole the lead for the first time in the game at the eight minute mark thanks to five consecutive goals.

With the game getting away from them the Magic made a couple of defensive changes as Erena Mikaere went to the bench and Georgia Tong pulled on the goal defence bib. Mystics snuck out to a two goal lead before once again the lead changed hands as the Magic wrestled their way back into the match. intensity was high as was goal scoring as both sides made their way to post with relative ease given the tall timbers at each respective end. Injury struck in the dying seconds of the quarter as Fakahokotau went down with an ankle injury forcing her to leave the court.

There were changes aplenty to start the third term with Semple pushed to the bench and Williams on in goal attack. for the Mystics Filda Vui was injected into the action as Mes took a seat on the sidelines and the move did not disappoint as Vui nailed a goal in less than a minute on court. Her partnership with Nweke was on song early as the duo kept Tong and Mikaere’s head on a swivel to find easy avenue to post. There was no denying the closeness of the game as scores were levelled almost instantaneously before the Magic’s new shooting combination took centre stage as Bassett and Williams combined. The home side maintained their two goal buffer, keeping the Mystics on the backfoot as they once again looked to the bench for a spark with Grace Kukutai getting the nod in at wing defence to try and stop Grace Kara who was having a strong impact credit to her deft passes and fancy footwork.

It was a frantic final five minutes of the quarter as the Magic and Mystics threw everything at each other. Toeava continued to win the battle against Holly Fowler with the wing defence able to squash her opponent’s speed and pinpoint placement on the pass. With neither side able to claim any real ascendancy and the lead swinging back and forth it was all going to come down to the final quarter.

Sitting at 52 goals apiece the game was there for the taking. The Magic were itching for a win but the class of the Mystics was starting to come to the fore as they nailed the first three goals of the game despite some inaccuracy from Nweke to establish a handy lead. From there on it was hard for the Magic to work their way back into the game as the Mystics flew down the court with their silky connections and transitional play leaving the Magic in the dust. Semple replaced Williams and shot the Magic’s last goal at the 13:30 minute mark as the Mystics put the foot down to grind out the game.

Bassett was the most dominant shooter for the Magic finishing with 36 goals from 41 attempts as Semple also plied her trade with 17 goals at 85 per cent accuracy. Williams was impactful when on court shooting 10 goals from 14 attempts, while Kara was the main feeder with 16 goal assists. Tong proved to have springs her feet picking up two intercepts for the Magic as Fitzpatrick and Burley combined for four gains for the Mystics. Nweke was unstoppable under the post sinking 57 goals at 93 per cent, as Vui managed eight goals in her half of netball. Toeava was in devastating form racking up a whopping 38 goal assists.

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