Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Netball: Rasmussen chalks up milestone

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Magic wing attack Grace Rasmussen will play her 100th ANZ Championship game in Sunday's elimination final against the Mystics. Photo / Michael Bradley
Magic wing attack Grace Rasmussen will play her 100th ANZ Championship game in Sunday's elimination final against the Mystics. Photo / Michael Bradley

Cold Power Magic will contest the playoffs of the ANZ Championship for the ninth consecutive season when they host the Northern Mystics on Sunday.

The New Zealand Conference Elimination Final will take place at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton from 4.10pm and is also a special milestone for Magic's Grace Rasmussen.

It will be the 100th ANZ Championship match for the dynamic wing attack/goal attack.

Rasmussen, 28, had six seasons with the Mystics before joining the Magic three seasons ago, which she says makes it even more special.

"I started my ANZ career there and have lifelong friends in the Mystics team, so it is nice to share the moment with them as well but at the end of the day I am there to do a job for the Magic," she said.

The favourites tag sits uneasily with Rasmussen and the Magic players for Sunday's elimination final against their northern rivals.

Rasmussen is well aware of what the Mystics are capable of. "They are strong particularly down both ends, in the shooting circle and defensively.

"They've got some really experienced heads with the likes of Maria (Tutaia) and (Cathrine Tuivaiti) down the attacking end. Anna (Scarlett) and Kayla (Cullen), who has just come back from injury, and Temalisi (Fakahokotau) has been around for a while.

"We have to make sure we do our job.

"We have won the two times we have come up against them this season but we are not going to take them lightly.

"We know they are a strong team and we know we have to do the hard yards to get the result we want."

The Magic reached Sunday's eliminator after a wonderful run of form with six wins from their last eight games, after a horror start that saw them lose their first five games.

"We had a few injuries obviously, with myself and Leana (de Bruin) who are two experienced players out for a couple of games, but our hunger and determination have ramped up that little bit extra," Rasmussen said.

"After coming off five losses we reflected and took a hard, honest look in the mirror at ourselves, had some honest conversations with one another and I think that was a turning point for us.

"It is reflected in the next five games that we won.

"Heading into Sunday's game we have continued to be honest with each other."

Rasmussen says tough-as-teak Australian coach Julie Fitzgerald has been a major factor in turning the season round.

"She has been extremely important.

"At the end of each game she is brutally honest with each of us.

"She takes the positives out of the game but also reflects on what we need to work on.

"She holds each and every one of us accountable and I think that is what makes her a great coach."

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