Key win helps Mystics leapfrog into fourth place
Climbing off the bottom of the table, the SKYCITY Mystics kept their season alive with a much-needed 53-46 win over WBOP Magic in Rotorua tonight.
With both teams still in contention to make the Finals Series coming into the game there was plenty riding on the outcome, the Mystics delivering when it mattered to reverse a three-game losing run.
Not much went right for the under-siege Magic, time and again the home team showing their fighting spirit when making light of big deficits with a string of stirring comebacks.
Closing to within two down the home straight, Magic could not budge the Mystics from their lead, the home side eventually even missing out on a bonus point. With the prospect of three games in seven days, the Mystics destiny now sits in their own hands.
There was a new look to both teams at the start of the match, goal attack Amorangi Malesala and wing defence Lisa Mather getting their first starts for the injury-ravaged Magic. For the visitors, Storm Purvis also got her first start of the season, after the goalkeeper has spent a long spell on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Despite dynamic Mystics wing attack Elisapeta Toeava showcasing her impressive skill set with her speed, vision and decision-making, the home side recovered from a slow start. Making better use of their opportunities, an impressive late burst handed Magic a 13-10 lead at the first break.
With so much at stake, the Mystics response was immediate with veteran defender and captain Anna Harrison along with super accurate young shooter Tera-Maria Amani injected on the resumption.
Both had immediate impact, the presence of Harrison shutting down Magic’s shooting options while at the other end, Amani showed a cool head with her precision shooting and immaculate finishing.
A telling run of eight goals on the trot pushed the visitors into the lead, the Magic unable to respond and guilty of a lack of accuracy in their general play. The Mystics dazzled on attack with their speed and finishing to take a firm grip on proceedings.
Talented young goal attack Monica Falkner made an appearance late in the quarter as the Magic tried to steady the ship. However, a perfect 12 from 12 for Amani helped steer the Mystics to a threatening 28-24 lead at the main break.
A confident Mystics made a cracking start to the third term, the midcourt trio of Toeava, Samon Nathan and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson suffocating Magic’s attacking play. The visitors piled on the goals as they swept to a 10-goal lead while sending an ominous warning to their opponents.
The hosts put a stop to the rout with an encouraging passage of their own, strong driving play and feeding from Ariana Cable-Dixon finding prolific shooter Lenize Potgieter with more regularity.
The Magic trimmed the margin to four but once again, Mystics showed their ability to click up another gear, their relentless defensive work and slick attacking momentum pushing their lead out to 42-35 at the last turn.