Netball: Magic ready to go after rest

By Stuart Whitaker

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The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic are hoping for the return of captain Leana de Bruin for the trip to Victoria to face the Vixens on Sunday.
The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic are hoping for the return of captain Leana de Bruin for the trip to Victoria to face the Vixens on Sunday.

The Cold Power Magic are looking to kick start their season on the back of a bye week.

The Magic travel to Melbourne to tackle the Vixens in the ANZ Championship on Sunday, with both sides coming off a fourth round bye.

It's been a difficult start to the 2016 season for the Magic who have been hampered by injury to key players, but there are hopes skipper and defender Leana de Bruin will make her season debut in Sunday's game. The return of the other long-term injury absentee, Grace Rasmussen, is less likely.

Coach Julie Fitzgerald said the bye came at the right time.

"We are hoping that Leana is going to play some part at the weekend, Grace, we are not so sure about. But we've also got a few other players that have had niggles so the bye's been a great opportunity for them to get a little bit of rest as well," she said.

In de Bruin's and Rasmussen's absences, younger players, notably defenders Kelly Jury and Kristiana Manu'a, have gained valuable experience and taken the opportunities offered.

"I have great admiration for the way they've approached it and the effort they've put in and how much improvement they have shown, but to have a player like Leana around them, particularly at that end of the court, will be a great asset. She's our captain, so to have her experience and leadership out there is pretty invaluable for us."

Last time out, the Magic lost 63-53 to the Southern Steel in Rotorua after the teams had been locked as 12-all at quarter time and 29-all at halftime, and have yet to win this season.

"Obviously, consistency across four quarters is a problem for us," said Fitzgerald. "And we've had a few games where we've played a really good quarter or two, but we've not been able to sustain that and that [Steel] game was an example of that.

"But there are a lot of positives from the game too. We won a lot more ball back than we had the game before and against a team with [goal shooter] Jhaniele Fowler at the end, that was valuable for us. We just didn't manage to convert that into goals in the second half."

To address the issues, Fitzgerald has had the team working hard this week.

"We only had one session last week because I did want to lighten the load a little bit, but we are definitely looking for more consistency."

Fitzgerald does feel there are areas where the Magic will be able to get on top in the game in Melbourne on Sunday.

The Vixens have a one win, two loss record this season, defeats to the NSW Swifts and Queensland Firebirds either side of a win over the Thunderbirds.

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