Tactix stay in the running for historic finals berth
With one of their best attacking assaults of the season, the Silvermoon Tactix have kept their finals hopes alive with an exhilarating 62-60 victory over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in Hamilton.
They’ve now done all they can, and will be on the edge of their seats on Wednesday night to see if the Mystics can beat the Pulse - and deny the Tactix a place in Finals Series for the first time.
Although the Tactix had never beaten the Magic in the ANZ Premiership before this match, their confidence was running high, coming off the back of an upset win over league leaders the Pulse.
A Magic side rattled by injuries all through the season, were playing for pride, not wanting to finish the season on the bottom of the table.
But in a game where a lead was never guaranteed, and neither side gave an inch, the Tactix managed to amass their highest score this season. Goal shoot Ellie Bird was in great form under the hoop scoring 54 from 61 - fed intuitively by Brooke Leaver, Erikana Pedersen and MVP Kimiora Poi.
The injection of goal attack Kate Beveridge when the Magic looked like they were on the front foot with only minutes left on the clock, made a major difference in the Tactix victory.
Neither team had an obvious advantage in the first quarter – both producing strong, clean, attacking netball - although the Magic held the lead right up until two minutes before the break. Then an over-generous pass completely missed the hands of the Magic shooters and the Tactix capitalised to lead 17-16.
Just as the Tactix appeared to be pulling away in the second spell, a smart pick-up low down from Magic goal defence Kate Levien helped bring the two sides level again. Gritty goal attack Monica Falkner lifted her shooting game, having to work extra hard to elude Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson.
The Tactix doggedness was obvious in one three-goal run which began with both Leaver and Bird throwing themselves out of court to keep the ball in play; that gave them a three-goal edge.
But not to be outdone in the determination stakes, the Magic scored another three in a row to stay in the hunt. The Tactix held on for a 32-31 lead at halftime.
As the battle continued, Sam Sinclair was in the thick of the action for her Magic side, while Poi and Charlotte Elley were equally effective in the middle for the Tactix.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Magic had a brief flirt with the lead, with Jenna O’Sullivan making a telling appearance for the home side at goal defence. But the Tactix rallied again and extended the gap to two at three-quarter time, 48-46.
The Magic returned to court with renewed energy and the ability to play the ball into space and flummox the Tactix attack, and leap ahead 54-52.
The Tactix responded by making a change in their attack, bringing the wise head of Kate Beveridge on at goal attack, moving Leaver to wing attack. The switch worked immediately and the Tactix went ahead by two again.
Fakahokotau and Watson came into their own in the dying stages – Watson taking an intercept as she was running backwards – and although the Magic never quit, it was the visitors who took the spoils.