SHOWCASING why they are the team to beat this season, the Northern Mystics stormed to a huge 19-goal win over Mainland Tactix to open Round 9 of the ANZ Premiership season. The Mystics had to shake off a determined Tactix outfit in the first term, but they piled on the goals to rack up a 23-goal third term and secure a bonus point with the 70-51 victory, winning all four quarters. The top of the table side scored 55 goals in just 45 minutes as they were in read hot form, including 45 from 49 off the hands of towering young shooter Grace Nweke.
NORTHERN MYSTICS 13 | 19 | 23 | 15 (70)
MAINLAND TACTIX 11 | 14 | 14 | 12 (51)
The Tactix started a touch nervously, missing the first two chances, before Ellie Bird put the first goal of the day in 56 seconds into the contest. Both sides looked rough early, with the Tactix leading by one goal for the most part, even up until the final few minutes. Four of the last five goals going the way of Nweke and the Mystics saw the home team take a two-goal lead into the first break. Nweke had 12 of 13 in the fist term, whilst Monica Falkner (one of three, but four gaol assists) and Phoenix Karaka (two intercepts) were also amongst the best. Samon Nathan tried hard up the other end for the Tactix with six goal assists, whilst Bird (five goals from seven assists) and Te Paea Selby-Rickit (six from eight) were able to keep touch with the Mystics.
After having multiple three-goal streaks going both ways early in the term, the Mystics managed to build a five-goal buffer on their opposition. Though Bird and Selby-Rickit cut it to two at the 10 and a half minute mark of the term, before Filda Vui – who had come on for Falkner – and Nweke – piled on eight of the last 11 goals to take a game-high seven-goal advantage into the main break. Nweke ran at 100 per cent from her 14 chances in the second term, with Claire O’Brien (seven goal assists) and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (two intercepts) both trying hard. The introduction of Carys Stythe for Phoenix Karaka added a different element to the game, as the Tactix just faded late in the half.
Kate Lloyd came on at goal defence for the Tactix to start the second half, whilst Karin Burger moved into wing defence, a change she would reverse midway through the quarter as Charlotte Elley returned to the court. Elisapeta Toeava and Fa’amu Ioane rotated on their respective wings to begin the second half for the Mystics as well. Whatever the Tactix tried, it just could not work with Nweke on absolute fire, and the defenders unable to contain her. At one stage Nweke and Vui fired off seven consecutive goals and the lead blew out well beyond double figures – a feat they had achieved less than five minutes into the half.
The Mystics had build so much of a lead – 16 goals at the final break – they opted to give Nweke a rest in the final term and pair up Falkner with Vui. The Tactix also took the opportunity to make changes at both ends of the court with Bird and Kelera Nawai-Caucau coming off at the six-minute mark, and eventually Selby-Rickit was rested as well. Hannah Glen managed to score five goals from seven attempts for the Tactix by getting the court time, whilst Vui (nine from nine) and Falkner (six from seven) still thrived in a combination without Nweke. Toeava (seven goal assists) was also busy for the Mystics.
Though Nweke finished off the team effort with her 45 goals from 49 attempts at a goal per minute, it was the defensive work of Karaka (three intercepts) who earned the Most Valuable Player (MVP). Vui (17 goals from 19 attempts) and Falkner (eight from 11) also influenced, with Vui, Toeava and O’Brien sharing 14 goal assists apiece. Ioane and Sokolich-Beatson (both two intercepts) were hard working on the defensive end. For the Tactix, Selby-Rickit scored 22 goals from 27 attempts, with Bird nailing 23 from 29. Nathan (16 goal assists from 33 feeds) and Kimiora Poi (14 goal assists from 24 feeds, and two intercepts) both tried hard in midcourt.
Both sides play again tomorrow with the Northern Mystics taking on Northern Stars, and the Mainland Tactix facing the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.