Tactix on the board after Magical second half

AFTER going winless in their first two games, the Mainland Tactix are on the board in the 2022 ANZ Premiership season, meaning all six sides have a victory from the opening three rounds. The Tactix defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic after a stunning second half that saw them come from a goal down to post 34 goals to 26 in the second half and run out eight-goal winners, 61-54.

There was much excitement at Trustpower Baypark Arena with the Magic starting its Silver Ferns duo of Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, with the head-to-head between former Silver Ferns captain Ekenasio, and international defender Karin Burger being of particular interest. The former put up six goals at 100 per cent from the first term, with Mes shooting five of seven, but it was instead the Tactix, through the work of Kimiora Poi (four goal assists and one intercept) and Ellie Bird (10 goals at 100 per cent) that got the visitors off to the perfect start, taking a 14-11 lead into the first break.

The teams remained the same for the second term, and traded goals in the early part, with no more than two goals separating the sides, nor no more than three consecutive goals to either side, such was the evenness of the contest. But Ekenasio’s late score broke the deadlock and the Magic headed into half-time with the 28-27 lead. The only change to-date was Kate Lloyd rotating on for Kelera Nawai-Caucau to try and contain Mes (13 goals from 14 attempts in the quarter). Georgie Edgecombe was also starting to click in her partnership with Claire Kersten as the duo put up 12 goal assists between them, whilst Samon Nathan managed five for the Tactix.

Despite bing in front the Tactix rolled out the changes, as Ekenasio came to the bench due to her managed minutes, with Ivana Rowland coming on at goal shooter and Mes moving to goal attack, a combination that would remain for the second half. Ariana Cable Dixon would replace Edgcombe, and Oceane Maihi and Erena Mikaere would swap bibs in the defensive goal circle. The Tactix on the other hand, would only change midway through the quarter when the Magic got out to a four-goal lead.

They opted to move Burger into wing defence, shuffled Lloyd into goal defence, and brought Nawai-Caucau back on in goal keeper, with Charlotte Elley heading to the bench. The changes seemed to work a treat, as the Tactix went on a scoring rampage, piling on eight consecutive goals – six to Bird – as they came from 33-37 down to be 41-37 up. The Tactix then extended that out to as much as six at one stage, before a late Mes goal – only the second one in the final six minutes of the quarter – reduced the final break deficit to five.

Bird finished the term with a massive 13 goals at 100 per cent, whilst Burger was forcing turnovers, and Lloyd and Nawai-Caucau were teaming up well. Nathan had a quarter-high seven goal assists as well. From there, the Tactix just seemed to be on top, with Samantha Winders and Kersen swapping bibs in the midcourt for the Magic, and Edgecombe swapping for Cable-Dixon for the last quarter.

Despite their best efforts, the Magic could never get it closer than four goals, and at one stage the Tactix blew it out to 11, before six consecutive goals drew the home side to within five goals in the final two minutes. It was ultimately all four nought though, as Bird scored the last two goals of the match to enjoy the 61-54 victory, and get her side on the board in season 2022.

Burger won Most Valuable Player (MVP) for her work in switching from goal defence to wing defence, whilst Bird finished with a massive 45 goals from 47 attempts, as well as four goal assists and two rebounds. Te Paea Selby-Rickit (16 goals from 19 attempts, 12 goal assists and one intercept) and Nathan (23 goal assists) were all strong. For the Magic, Mes managed the 32 goals from 37 attempts and seven goal assists, whilst Ekenasio had the 10 from 10 in a half. Edgecombe did well for 15 goal assists and an intercept, whilst Kertsten worked hard for nine goal assists between centre and wing defence.

WBOP MAGIC 11 | 17 | 11 | 15 (54)
MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 13 | 17 | 17 (61)

Most Valuable Player: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)

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