NORTHERN Mystics made it three from three with an eight-goal win (69-61) over Northern Stars to further solidify their standings atop of the ladder. Having played only days earlier the Stars were unable to muster enough firepower to combat the Mystics who seemed to have things all their own way winning three out of the four quarters.
It was a scrappy start to the game for the Stars with Jamie Hume returning from injury but throwing ball away first with a missed shot and then a held ball. It then quickly transitioned down the other end of the court and while Grace Nweke came up short she made no mistake on the second attempt. The early break gave the Mystics the upper hand with Bailey Mes using her pinpoint feeds into Nweke to carve up the defence. It was hard for the Stars to penetrate in attack with the Mystics employing some strong hands over pressure and forcing the Stars to move laterally rather than look directly into the circle. Hume had the yips early forcing Maia Wilson to carry the load while up the other end it was the familiar route of the high release into Nweke that was giving the home side the advantage. Things were not going to plan inside the circle for the Stars with Wilson missing back-to-back goals, but Gina Crampton’s nous around circle edge enabled her to get hands to the turnover both times and release ball back into the shooters.
Although the Mystics had a hard time finding circle edge it did not bother them as the likes of Tayla Earle and Peta Toeava released with great confidence from range time and time again. A two-goal buffer quickly turned into a three-goal lead credit to the defensive work of Earle to cherry pick a pass in the attacking third. Three goals in a row from the Mystics gifted them the upper hand and prompted the Stars to make a change with Greer Sinclair coming onto replace Lisa Mather. Anna Harrison and Elle Temu were working in overdrive to nullify the influence of Nweke but it was to no avail as the Stars skipped out to a four goal lead.
Looking for a change at quarter time Harrison pushed out to goal defence as Temu slotted back into goal keeper. Neither side was able to break stride, going for goal as the four goal buffer remained. Inaccuracy was a factor for both sides in the first few minutes before they settled into their rhythm. The Stars were well and truly getting found out down in defence racking up 24 penalties solely split between Harrison and Temu while up the other end the Mystics were clean and classy. Earle was having a field day up against Mila Reuelu-Buchanan as the centre controlled proceedings through the midcourt.
The Stars were inspired by some Harrison magic before Crampton also filled her stats sheet with an intercept of her own. There was no easy passage to goal as Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick clogged up the space forcing the Stars to play the ball around but their composed and patient approach allowed them to eat into the deficit. A four-goal deficit was dwindled down to two but the errant shooting of Hume continued to cost the Stars. A late rally from the Mystics undid all the hard work the Stars had done to get back within the contest as the three-goal buffer was restored.
The intensity continued in the third quarter with the Stars shooting end unable to score with their usual level of accuracy while the Mystics were making it look easy. Struggling to find her mojo in the opening half, Mes moved to the bench as Filda Vui was injected into the thick of things. She wasted no time having an impact, with her accuracy to post and crafty court play coming to the fore. Toeava showcased her class and strength to keep herself from falling offside and then propel the ball back down the court, but it was all the Stars as they nailed three goals straight to level the scores as Monica Falkner entered the fray for the first time since the beginning of the season.
The goal-for-goal ball-game continued for a large part of the term before once again the Mystics managed to find a way to pull ahead thanks to three consecutive goals. Both sides looked to the bench with Ama Agbeze pulling on the goal keeper bib and Oceane Maihi coming on in the same position for the Stars. Every time the Mystics appeared to put the foot down the Stars found a way to stay within touching distance and remain in the hunt but a sloppy couple of final minutes cost them any sort of momentum.
The final quarter was action-packed as the Stars looked to turn the tables on their previous two encounters. Hume re-entered the contest and came on with a hot hand but the issue remained the same with the Stars unable to find any easy avenue to post. That was not the case up the other end as the Mystics pulled out the party tricks releasing the ball from just about anywhere to hit Nweke holding strong under the post. A rally of three goals straight saw the Mystics push out to a six-goal lead and a costly offensive contact from Wilson saw the ball change hands. With the home strait in sight the Mystics put the foot down to get the job done and seal the deal by eight goals.
Nweke was down on her usual accuracy but still managed to hit the scoreboard with great proficiency finishing with 54 goals from 65 attempts while Vui came on with a point to prove adding 11 goals at 79 per cent. Toeava wreaked havoc amassing 26 goal assists as Earle also had an influence with her 14 goal assists and intercept, while Fitzpatrick had a hand in just about everything finishing with five gains. Wilson led the way for the Stars with 40 goals from 46 attempts at 87 per cent while Hume nailed 20 from 33 at a lowly 61 per cent. Crampton was the main feeder racking up 35 goal assists as Harrison posed a threat down back with her three gains.