Last-gasp thriller a major boost for Tactix
The Good Oil Tactix boosted their chances of a top-two finish after completing a thrilling 43-42 win over major rivals, the Northern Mystics in Auckland on Sunday.
It was all too evident of what was on the line with both teams battling to fill the No 2 spot behind Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse for the Grand Final, the Tactix holding the slimmest of edges throughout but nearly blowing their hard-won gains in the closing minutes.
Leading by six with 3 – ½ minutes to go, the Tactix tried to run out the game by playing safely but time and again, it backfired as the Mystics gobbled up a flurry of intercepts late in the piece. Scoring the last five goals, the Mystics, playing at home for the first time this season, finished up with a valuable bonus point but were given a real sniff of a late boil-over.
The sure shooting of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird proved a key for the Tactix in what was a tight and absorbing contest.
The Mystics made two big changes when naming promising goal attack Filda Vui and robust wing defence Dani Gray in their starting seven for the first time this season. For the Tactix, it was business as usual in remaining with their regular starters of recent weeks.
It was all Tactix in the opening exchanges, the growing connection between shooters Bird and Selby-Rickit getting the southerners off to the most a promising of starts. After extending out to a six-goal buffer, the Mystics gave their opponents plenty to think about as the game closed right up.
The Mystics surged back with more accurate ball landing in the hands of key shooting weapon Grace Nweke while defenders Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka snaffled turnover opportunities to leave the Tactix holding a tenuous 13-12 lead at the first break.
The Mystics levelled up proceedings shortly after the resumption, the speed of mercurial midcourter Peta Toeava’s release to Nweke being a feature as a goal-for-goal arm wrestle ensued. The growing intensity meant plenty of opportunities for turnovers as the Mystics slipped briefly into the lead.
Emily Burgess came on at wing defence for the Mystics as both sets of in-circle defenders continued to have a big influence on the see-sawing fortunes.
Hard to keep quite for long, a couple of brilliant turnovers from captain Jane Watson and the steadying hands of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen in the attacking third, helped the Tactix regain the edge when leading 24-21 at the main break.
Steady and patient proved a successful formula for the Tactix through much of the third quarter with athletic midcourter Poi a model of consistency at both ends while play-making goal attack Selby-Rickit helped with a steady flow of ball into the circle.
Looking to end the impasse when nosing out to a five-goal lead, the Tactix faced a late quarter ambush from the Mystics, who introduced Courtney Elliott, their third wing defence of the match, late in the piece.
With defenders Karaka and Fitzpatrick at their bustling best, the Tactix were put under the pump, resulting in hesitancy on attack. Chipping away, the Mystics ensured the absorbing contest would go to the wire when holding the Tactix to a narrow 34-32 lead at the last turn.