Mystics honour Harrison with big win
Playing for their retiring captain Anna Harrison, the SKYCITY Mystics kept their hopes of appearing in the Finals Series alive after dispatching WBOP Magic 62-44 in Auckland tonight.
Harrison, the long-serving and loyal Mystics campaigner had an influential presence in her final match on her home court before retiring from all netball at the end of the season. But most importantly, the rangy defender ensured her team remained in the race to secure third place.
In a thrilling conclusion to the season, which will now go down to the wire, as both the Mystics and Silvermoon Tactix chase the one remaining Finals Series spots in next week’s final round of the regular season.
Harrison showed her full repertoire against a gallant Magic, the Mystics firepower having a telling effect the longer the match wore on.
Well-performed up-and-comers Elisapeta Toeava and Samon Nathan in the midcourt were complimented by a five-strong Silver Ferns contingent at either end of the court in a formidable starting seven for the Mystics. Hit hard by injuries, the Magic presented with a settled line-up of recent weeks.
From the outset, the Magic were intent on taking the most direct route possible to prolific shooter Lenize Potgieter. The plan proving a successful formula in the early exchanges as the visitors showed plenty of purposeful intent to stick with the home team.
At the other end, the tried and true shooting combination of Bailey Mes and Maria Folau slipped in seamlessly as the Mystics exhibited flashes of their renowned brilliance. In an entertaining and high-scoring opening, it was the Mystics who edged to a 17-14 lead at the first break.
On the resumption, it was the home team’s dominance which began to take effect on the back of full-court defensive pressure and sweeping through-court play. The Magic’s response was rushed, resulting in turnovers as Mystics built to a five-goal lead.
However, led by hard-working captain Samantha Sinclair, the Magic refused to go away, pulling back to within three in a momentum-swinging second stanza.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Mystics, who were let down by a rash of untimely errors but with Mes showcasing her range of movement, athleticism, timing and aerial ability, it was the home team who whipped out to a handy 32-25 lead at the main break.
Scoring the first three goals put the Mystics in the box seat at the start of the third stanza. The Magic tried multiple changes of personnel in a bid to haul themselves back into the contest, having their moments but unable to push on.
Both teams were plagued by a rash of passing and handling errors in an evenly contested term but the Mystics defensive unit of Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Phoenix Karaka and the irrepressible Harrison was key to the Mystics nudging out to a 43-34 lead at the last break.