Back-to-back wins for rejuvenated Mystics
With both teams desperate for a win, a stunning second half revival powered the Northern Mystics to a decisive 64-54 win over The Good Oil Tactix in Auckland today.
After losing their opening six games of the season, the Mystics have now posted successive wins as their campaign begins to gain some traction. Producing a stellar first half, the Tactix could not contain the growing momentum generated from the home side during the second half.
An inexperienced teenaged trio in each third of the court – (shooter) Grace Nweke, (midcourter) Tayla Earle, and (defender) Nanise Waqaira, on debut, played key roles in helping drive an impressive come-from-behind win for the Mystics.
After receiving a head knock in the last round, captain Phoenix Karaka spent this match on the sidelines as a precaution, forcing the Mystics into a rejigged line-up.
Shooters Bailey Mes and Jamie Hume got the start ahead of young shooting sensation Nweke, in her first match since becoming a fully-contracted Mystics player. Erena Mikaere and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson filled the in-circle defensive potions while Earle slotted in at wing defence and Grace Kukutai, centre.
In a reasonably settled line-up, the Tactix opted for Ellie Bird and import Kate Beveridge as their starting shooters.
With the Mystics new-look line taking time to settle, it was the visitors who had the upper hand through the opening stages.
Bird was a solid pillar under the Tactix hoop, ably supported by Beveridge as the red and blacks enjoyed a greater supply of possession.
The Mystics had their moments as play ebbed and flowed but were largely undone by a lack of accuracy under the hoop, the Tactix hitting the first break with a 14-10 lead.
The introduction of Nweke on the resumption was greeted with a roar of approval from the crowd while providing an immediate lift from the Mystics.
The long-limbed Nweke was quick to show her aerial skills, hauling in a succession of long-range bombs as the Mystics narrowed the gap to just two goals.
However, a composed Tactix weathered the storm admirably, captain Jane Watson in the thick of action in securing turnover ball at the defence end while Bird was a model of consistency under the hoop.
Keeping hold of the ball and maintaining accuracy helped the Tactix build on their buffer when stretching their advantage to 33-24 at half-time.
There were more changes for the Mystics at the start of the third spell which proved inspiring as the home side staged a massive turnaround.
Emma Iversen was introduced at wing attack and with Mikaere moving to wing defence, the injection of Beko Netball League defender Nanise Waqaira proved a masterstroke. The 18-year-old proved quite at home at the elite level, disrupting the flow to Bird as the Tactix scoring opportunities dried up.
With Sokolich-Beatson leading the charge in a revitalised defence line, the Mystics piled on the pressure, scoring a succession of goals before levelling up the scores with six minutes to go in the third stanza.
Providing a healthy supply of unstoppable ball into the hands of Nweke, the Mystics turned the game on its head when reducing a nine-goal half-time deficit in to a one-goal 43-42 lead at the last break.