Stars shine with late surge to pip Magic
In another memorable match between the pair, the Robinhood Northern Stars clinched a thrilling 45-43 win over Splice Construction Magic at the Auckland Netball Centre on Sunday.
It sealed a perfect two from two for the double-header weekend for the Stars as they turned the tables six days after the Magic chased them down in the last quarter to earn a draw but on this occasion having to settle for a bonus point when finishing within five goals.
This time it was the Stars who came from behind after falling behind following a surging third quarter from the Magic.
Stars goalkeeper Oceane Maihi had terrific impact from the bench when introduced late in the third quarter, the Magic not able to go on with the job in an increasingly tense and nerve-wracking run to the line.
Both sides went with settled line-ups, with dogged midcourter Lisa Mather once again earning the starting spot at wing defence for the Stars.
The game started at a quick clip but it was the Stars who were the more decisive in the opening exchanges, picking off a couple of turnovers to hold the upper handy.
However, all the good work was undone when the Stars were guilty of similar soft turnovers, helping the Magic to level up halfway through.
Goal attack Jamie Hume had a promising start, opening up the Stars circle while at the other end, fleet-footed wing attack Whitney Souness delivered a number of quality feeds to shooter Kelsey McPhee.
Racing out to a five-goal advantage, the Stars could not retain their ascendancy with a Magic comeback leaving them with a narrow 13-10 lead at the first break.
Magic piled on the pressure on the resumption, a fast, furious and abrasive second 12-minute quarter becoming the order of the day. Sam Winders moved to centre with Jenna O’Sullivan coming from the bench to wing defence as Magic’s resolute defence stalled the Stars through-court flow.
Fa’amu Ioane was also introduced at wing defence for the Stars, her in-circle defensive team-mate Kate Burley providing the impetus with a valuable source of intercept and deflected ball.
Drawing within two goals, a lack of consistency remained a bugbear for the Magic as the Stars finished with a flourish to increase their margin to five when leading 23-28 at the main break.
In her 50th ANZ Premiership match, the return of Ariana Cable-Dixon coincided with a sizzling third stanza from the Magic. It couldn’t have started better, the Magic scoring the first three goals on the re-start to gain the momentum and drive home their growing confidence.
Souness was at her brilliant best, her footwork and vision helping deliver a quality service to a more mobile McPhee while Abigail Latu-Meafou stepped up to help her shooting mate as the pair put the polish on the precision ball they were receiving under the hoop.
At the other end, in-circle defenders Holly Fowler and Erena Mikaere got their hands on more turnover ball as they put the squeeze on the Stars shooters, the intensity on Magic’s drives through court paying on the scoreboard.
In a bid to deny the easy ball getting into McPhee, Maihi was introduced at goalkeeper to the fray for the Stars but the Magic retained the impetus, out-scoring the Stars 18-10 to take a 36-33 lead into the last break.