AN outstanding defensive performance has guided the Northern Stars to a low-scoring eight-goal win over the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Round 9 of the ANZ Premiership today. In the first of back-to-back games for the sides in Auckland, the Stars ground out a 47-39 victory with goal keeper Anna Harrison continuing to age like a fine wine to earn Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours. It was far from easy after trailing at quarter time, but a standout middle two terms – scoring 25 goals to 14 – set up the victory.
NORTHERN STARS 12 | 12 | 13 | 10 (47)
WBOP MAGIC 14 | 7 | 7 | 11 (39)
It was the Magic who started off strongly, racing to a five-goal lead in the opening seven minutes with Bailey Mes (five goals from six chances) and Ivana Rowland (three from three) making it 9-4 before the midway point of the first quarter. Jamie Hume soon stepped up to shoot three consecutive goals – with three accompanying misses, and the Stars ended up levelling the match 12 minutes in. Mes and Rowland quickly piled on four goals over the next two minutes to again open up a mini buffer, only for Maia Wilson to cut the quarter time deficit to two.
Mes finished the term with eight goals from 10 attempts, whilst Samantha Winders and Georgie Edgecombe had five goal assists. After a couple of turnovers, Georgia Tong was replaced by Oceane Maihi, while Claire Kersten was on top of the dangerous Gina Crampton. A quick switch of Kayla Johnson coming on for Holly Fowler in wing defence to contain Edgecombe did the trick, as Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan got on top in the second term, combining for nine goal assists from 22 feeds. Harrison was outstanding in goal keeper, picking up three intercepts and forcing Rowland to the bench. Wilson piled on eight foals from 10 attempts, whilst Hume was four from five. Maihi kept trying hard for the Magic, but the game had swung to the Stars who were three goals up at the main break.
That momentum carried into the third term, with Hume and Wilson still being somewhat inaccurate but getting the job done. After Mes and Eseta Autagavaia cut the deficit to just one goal at the four-minute mark, Wilson turned it on, totalling the next six goals as the Stars raced out to an 11-goal lead. Two misses from Mes showed the pressure the Magic shooting combination was under, having scored just two goals in 12 minutes. By the time they had scored their fifth goal for the quarter -which ended up being three consecutive goals – the deficit had built into the double digits, and eventually landed at nine by the final break.
Northern Stars moved Harrison into goal defence and Elle Temu into goal keeper, with Johnson and Fowler switching again. Later on, Hume and Reuelu-Buchanan came off, with Amorangi Malesala and Fowler playing out the second half of the final term. Though the Magic did manage to win the quarter by one goal, it was a case of too little, too late. The Magic shot at a higher clip, and were able to have six less turnovers (18-24), whilst the defensive pairing of Harrison (five intercepts) and Temu (three intercepts, five rebounds), contained Rowland (11 goals from 17 attempts) and Mes (23 from 34). Maihi (two intercepts, one rebound) and Erena Mikaere (two rebounds) both did their best on Wilson (31 goals from 40 attempts) and Hume (13 from 22) to force inaccurate shooting, but in the end the weight of numbers won out and the Stars collected the 47-39 victory.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic take on Mainland Tactix in the first of two games tomorrow again, whilst Northern Stars get to test themselves against the high-powered Northern Mystics attack in the second game.