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Mystics outclass Tactix to remain unbeaten

Mystics outclass Tactix to remain unbeaten

With all parts of their court stepping up when it counted, the MG Mystics served notice of their credentials to clinch a hard-fought 54-45 win over the Trident Homes Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday.

Each team fronted with their strongest lines in a match-up between two of the league’s genuine heavyweights. And it took almost the entire 60 minutes for the relentless Mystics to collect the points in a classic grind while subduing a plucky Tactix outfit.

With individual match-ups littered across the court, the battle to gain the upper hand at the defensive ends emerged very quickly. Both teams boasted international in-circle defensive pairings and the respective combinations of Jane Watson and Karin Burger (Tactix) and Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka (Mystics) certainly didn’t disappoint.

The subsequent accumulative build-up of pressure in both attacking thirds resulted in turnover opportunities in a fast-paced opening, the quality of the defence ensuring a low-scoring opening stanza.

The Tactix had the greater number of scoring opportunities but it was the Mystics, on the back of a 100 percent shooting return, who headed to the first break with a narrow 11-10 lead.

The move of Kimiora Poi to centre and rookie Parris Petera taking over the wing attack bib coincided with the first three goals to the Tactix and a taste of the lead on the resumption.

However, the nip and tuck between the sides continued to take centre stage as the pair went toe-to-toe. Watson and Burger were standouts in winning possession back for the home side who had to work harder to get the ball into their shooting circle.

The Mystics enjoyed being able to play an expansive game as mercurial wing attack Peta Toeava had a growing presence with her ability to deliver pin-point ball into the hands of dangerous shooter Grace Nweke.

The Tactix held the lead briefly but couldn’t convert all their opportunities, the Mystics having just the one miss in a drawn second quarter as the visitor’s held their one-goal advantage when leading 24-23 at the main break.

England international Laura Malcolm returned to centre for the Tactix with Poi going to wing attack for the second half but it was the Mystics who had the best of starts.

A Michaela Sokolich-Beatson intercept inspired the Mystics to launch a five-goal scoring streak as they stretched out to a six-goal lead in a momentum-swinging third stanza.

At the defensive end, Fitzpatrick and Karaka continued to keep the Tactix main scoring weapon, Aliyah Dunn under tight wraps. The duo played a key role in limiting any easy ball into the Tactix circle. At the other end, Nweke exerted her growing presence through her fine positional play and scoring ability.

However, as was the nature throughout the match, the Tactix were far from done, Burger and Watson keeping their side in the contest and helping pull the margin back to two.

The Mystics response was just as emphatic, a decisive late burst pushing them out to a 40-34 lead at the last turn.

In a last throw of the dice, the Tactix reshuffled their defence line in an attempt to secure more gains with the 1.92m Kate Lloyd coming off the bench into goalkeeper, Watson going to goal defence and Burger to wing defence.

The Tactix kept their opponents honest through much of this stage of the game but at times let themselves down through poor discipline while the Mystics’ ability to absorb the onslaught before unleashing their own withering response was the telling difference between the pair.