Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Netball: Magic continue impressive revival

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Central Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Wells holds off Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic defender Leana de Bruin at ASB Arena. Photo / Alan Gibson
Central Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Wells holds off Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic defender Leana de Bruin at ASB Arena. Photo / Alan Gibson

After a horror start to the season, the Magic clinched their third straight victory with a determined 54-44 triumph over the Central Pulse at ASB Arena on Monday night.

Beleaguered by injuries and losing their first four games, the Cold Power Magic have bounced back with a vengeance, leapfrogging two other teams to now sit in second on the New Zealand Conference ladder.

It was the Magic's 50th home court victory in ANZ Championship history, the second-best home win record in the league.

It was an impressive first half act by the home side, who led by nine at halftime, but captain Leana de Bruin - adding another strong performance in her comeback from injury - was not happy with her side's ugly finish.

The Pulse put together flashes of excellence during the 60 minutes, but could not string them together consistently to repeat their first-round victory over the Magic, their only win so far this season.

The importance of a good feeder was keenly evident in the first quarter with the Magic's Grace Rasmussen and Sam Sinclair obliging their hungry shooters, while the Pulse's experienced Elias Scheres fired in some deadly bullets at Maia Wilson.

But the Magic's defensive pressure around the circle was more intense, and they built a six-goal lead.

Inspired by captain Katrina Grant, the Pulse sharpened their defence just before the break, scoring five quick goals in a row to bring the difference back to one.

Trailing 15-13 going into the second quarter, the Pulse switched around their midcourt, moving Scheres to wing defence to try to disrupt the Magic's dominance on the circle edge.

But it was tough to stop the well-oiled Magic attack with Malia Paseka and Jo Harten smoothly sharing the shooting responsibilities.

Down court, wing defence Jamie-Lee Price was in stunning form, nabbing three intercepts and three deflections in the first half alone.

Seven goals in arrears, the Pulse suffered a momentary blow, losing Ameliaranne Wells who was suffering from the flu with four minutes of the half left, but she caught her breath and returned to the fray in the third quarter.

With the Magic on top 33-24 at halftime, they invested in a change of shooter with Paula Griffin replacing Paseka.

The Magic employed the full width of the court to work the ball down to their new shooting combo with good effect.

But just as they looked like they might run away with the match, Pulse defender Phoenix Karaka stepped up her game and snatched some crucial ball away from Magic hands.

Down 44-34, the Pulse rested Wilson, who had shot a creditable 21 from 24, for the final quarter and turned to Chelsea Locke at goal attack to assist Wells under the net.

But the damage had been done in the first half, and the end of the game was cluttered.

Even after the inspirational de Bruin left the court, the Magic managed to hold on for the win.

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