AFTER trailing at each of the first three breaks, the Mainland Tactix stepped up when it counted to run over the top of Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and keep their ANZ Premiership finals hopes alive. In a battle of the bottom two sides – who were both coming off losses the day before – the Tactix came from a goal down at the final break to seize the moment in the last stanza, to record a three-goal victory, 51-48. The win at Pulman Arena was the Tactix’s third of the season, and kept their finals hopes alive, whilst all but ending any hopes of a Magic revival.
WBOP MAGIC 16 | 12 | 12 | 8 (48)
MAINLAND TACTIX 15 | 11 | 13 | 12 (51)
With both sides desperate for a win, the Magic started the game strongly and lead by a goal at quarter time. Neither side broke away more than a three-goal lead, with Ivana Rowland joining Bailey Mes in the Magic shooting circle, whilst Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird continued their partnership for the Tactix. All of the shooters scored between seven or eight goals in an even effort, with the centre battle between Samantha Winders (six goal assists from 12 feeds) and Kimiora Poi (five from 11) fascinating, whilst Samon Nathan was doing well against Claire Kersten, and the only difference in the match was the one extra miss to the Tactix.
The only first half substitution was the Tactix bringing on Kate Lloyd for Kelera Nawai-Caucau after the Magic scored four consecutive goals – which was followed by two Tactix misses – as the Magic lead by that exact margin. Inaccuracy – particularly for bird – was stopping the Tactix from getting on top, missing two of her last three shots, and Selby-Rickit missing one on the final buzzer to head into half-time with a two-goal deficit. Remarkably the Tactix had 17 shots to the Magic’s 15, but only nailed 11 of them, and were still trailing. Nathan was doing her best with four goal assists from her 10 feeds, whilst Karin Burger was trying to frustrate the Magic shooting duo. Mes shot seven goals from eight attempts in the second term, and had five goal assists and a rebound as well.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic brought on their ace in Ameliaranne Ekenasio for the second half, rolling into goal attack, with Mes moved into goal shooter. Later on, they also brought on Georgia Tong in the defensive goal circle, with Oceane Maihi rested. For the Tactix, Bird was replaced by Hannah Glen, as the Tactix managed to score the first four goals of the term to take the lead and hold it for most of the quarter. At one stage, Mes shot back-to-back goals to regain the lead for the Magic, but the switch of Bird for Glen mixed it up again. Only a Mes buzzer-beater handed the Magic a one-goal lead at the final break.
The Tactix took control again in the opening couple of minutes, scoring the first three goals of the final term to lead by two. A crucial back-to-back misses to Glen resulted in Mes and Ekenasio scoring four consecutive goals to retake the lead by two, 44-42, seven minutes into the term. The misses prompted the switch of Glen for Bird again, and the Tactix shooting duo scored the next four goals to grab the two-goal lead back. They would go on to extended the lead to four goals in the final two minutes, and after a crucial Mes miss, the Magic could only claw back to the three-goal deficit, going down, 48-51 at Pulman Arena.
Selby-Rickit earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours for her 21 goals from 26 attempts, 14 goal assists and 23 feeds. Bird (28 goals from 34 attempts, two rebounds) also stood up, whilst Nathan (17 goal assists) and Poi (14 goal assists, one intercept) were good in midcourt. Burger (three intercepts) was the only player on court to pick up multiple intercepts. For the Magic, Mes finished with 26 goals from 31 attempts, 10 goal assists and three rebounds, whilst Ekenasio (nine from 11) and Rowland (13 from 16) both contributed. Winders amassed an equal game-high 17 goal assists, whilst grabbing an intercept as well.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic take on Northern Stars next Saturday, May 14, whilst Mainland Tactix host Northern Mystics on the same day.