Netball: Magic hunt for confidence after early struggle

By Peter White

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Magic's Leana de Bruin and Swifts Susan Pettitt in action during the ANZ Champs semi final netball match between the Magic and Swifts last year. Photo/Michael Bradley
Magic's Leana de Bruin and Swifts Susan Pettitt in action during the ANZ Champs semi final netball match between the Magic and Swifts last year. Photo/Michael Bradley

It is make or break time for the Waikato-BOP Magic. The only New Zealand franchise to have won the ANZ Championship title are languishing dead last in the New Zealand conference, without a win from five games.

Magic have the second worst goal difference with their tally of 193 the lowest in the competition.

But experienced Australian coach Julie Fitzgerald is determined her side will turn around their poor start to the competition.

The key factor she wants to install in her team is confidence ahead of a crucial season-defining clash against West Coast Fever at ASB Arena in Mount Maunganui on Monday night.

"I think we have lost a lot of confidence down in that attack end. Our connections are not there and we don't have the confidence to let the ball go," Fitzgerald said.

"We have talked about various things and what we did well in the pre-season and where we can go from here.

"We had a very strong pre-season and played particularly well and we had built a really good foundation to approach the season with.

"Then we got hit with injuries. You take two Silver Ferns out of any side and that will be hard but I do think our new young girls are getting plenty of experience and getting stronger on court.

"I am hoping we are able to turn the form around."

Monday's opponents the West Coast Fever are third in the Australian Conference with three wins, led by ace goal shoot Caitlin Bassett.

History has not been kind to the Perth-based West Coast Fever against the Magic.

They have lost all four games played in New Zealand against Magic.

But the past is of no interest to Fitzgerald.

"No nothing is more relevant than the last four weeks and the past counts for nothing."

What Fitzgerald is hoping for is a full house at ASB Arena on Monday night .

"It is very important. We have had a very hard draw in a lot of ways and we have been on the road a lot.

"We get most of our home games on the back end of the season so we are really looking forward to a home crowd. We really hope they come out and support us and cheer us home."

The New Zealand Conference is tight with the Southern Steel leading on nine points with four wins, ahead of Mainland Tactix on five points and Northern Mystics and Central Pulse on three points.

"Steel are obviously out on front but the rest of it is very close and that gives us some heart that if we can just get some points on the board we are right back in there," Fitzgerald said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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