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Mystics reclaim top spot after nailing strong win over Magic

Mystics reclaim top spot after nailing strong win over Magic

The MG Mystics broke the impasse between the pair while moving back to the top of the table after posting a decisive 60-49 win over Avis Magic in Auckland on Sunday.

In the highly anticipated third match-up between the two teams after each had picked up a win apiece, both by a solitary goal in the previous games, there was plenty of intrigue heading into the third instalment.

However, after an even first half, the Mystics unleashed a storming third quarter, firing on all cylinders across the court to leave the Magic on the back foot and unable to muster an effective counter response.

The Magic threatened a late rally but on the back of the Mystics greater share of the ball, 77 shots on goal compared to 58, it proved a bridge too far for the visitors.

Hampered by injuries to several players, the Mystics were missing captain Sulu Fitzpatrick for the fourth week while in-form shooter Monica Falkner was also ruled out through illness for the re-match with the Magic.

Former team member Claire O’Brien, called in from Australia last week, got the start at centre for the home side.

Celebrating captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio’s 100th national league match, there were no surprises in the Magic line-up, with Claire Kersten starting at wing defence and Simmon Wilbore and Georgie Edgecombe making up the attacking midcourt pairing.
A no-nonsense start from the Mystics eventually paid dividends as the home side’s full-court defensive pressure told on the Magic.

The back three of Carys Stythe, Phoenix Karaka and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson created plenty of turnover opportunities, the Mystics taking full toll with Peta Toeava firing pin-point ball into key shooting weapon Grace Nweke’s hands.

Dominating possession, the Mystics completed an impressive opening quarter with a 16-10 lead.

Holding their poise with patience and accuracy on attack, the Magic worked their way back into contention with the perfect response in the second quarter.

With Charlotte Elley coming off the bench into wing defence and Kersten moving to centre, the Magic provided a more balanced midcourt while the mobile shooting combination of Ekenasio and Bailey Mes found their groove.

Through their exploits, the Magic were able to create a momentum shift, six straight goals on the back of numerous Mystics inaccuracies, helped the visitors claw their way back.

Nudging, briefly, into the lead for the first time, the Magic were able to negate much of the damage done in the first quarter before a late rally pushed the home side to a narrow 28-26 lead at the main break.

The Mystics repeated the dose of their first quarter exploits with a dominating third stanza to change the shape of the game.
After levelling up early in the piece, the Magic could not sustain their impetus, a run of five giving the Mystics the edge from which they unleashed at both ends of the court.

Up-an-coming defender Stythe made a huge impact with her ability to block the shot, particularly of Mes, captain Sokolich-Beatson was a menace from wing defence while on attack, the Mystics attackers found Nweke with greater regularity while dazzling with their speed and skill through court.

With the home side lifting their intent and execution, the Magic could find little to stem the onslaught, the home side holding the upper hand when leading 46-37 at the last break.