Magic look for winning ways

By Ingrid Tiriana

A refreshed Casey Williams reckons her form is at about 80 per cent of where it could be after an eight-month injury break.

The 26-year-old Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic defender needed surgery to remove bone fragments from an ankle, forcing her out of the game for some time but she says the break was good for her, both mentally and physically.

Although the focus was on rehabilitation, she also enjoyed having some free time.

"It was a good time-out," she said after Magic training yesterday.

Williams rates her current form as "very average", saying she is about 70 to 80 per cent of where she could be and the improvement she seeks will come with more time on court.

"We've had a massive pre-season going into this year's ANZ Championship, it's just the match fitness and the specifics of the game I need to get better on."

The Magic were beaten 49-47 by Southern Steel in last week's opening round of the 2012 competition, a surprise to most and a disappointment to the team after holding a six-goal lead going into the final spell.

Tomorrow night, the Magic are likely to face tougher opposition in Northern Mystics at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton and Williams knows her side will need to be on their toes.

"We want to do better. We want to attack the ball more.

"Last round we felt like we were a couple of steps behind the opposition. We need to be alive and active and taking more initiative."

Williams said the focus going into this weekend's match was, very simply, on doing better and on the Magic concentrating on their own game more.

"At the end of the day we just want to win."

Achieving that, said Williams, would involve going back to basics, each player doing their own job well and working better as a unit.

Cohesion came only in patches for the Magic against the Steel and Williams said the players needed to take the initiative and get connected again if they felt the team going adrift.

Williams said the Magic hadn't taken an in-depth look at the Mystics or what sort of game they might produce, preferring to focus on their own tasks and their own game plan.

"We have a plan A, B, C ... we have them drilled into us and go over them ... then you go by the feel of the game ... we need to be versatile and make changes when things aren't working."

Williams said she was a fan of the changes coach Noeline Taurua had introduced this year with an emphasis on accountability and creating a winning culture.

"There's more honesty and talking and more competition in training. We're not here to play pretty netball, we're here to win.

"If we can be honest and play our own style no matter who we are playing - we are unbeatable," Williams said.

"Last week was only the first round. We don't see [the loss] as the end of the world. We've only had the one chance on court in real time so far ... give us another chance."

The Magic will get their chance at 7.20pm tomorrow when the Mystics, according to defender Anna Scarlett, they will be looking to exploit their "old foes" weaknesses.

In her latest blog on the Mystics franchise website, Scarlett, who was rested as a precaution because of a calf niggle, was all fighting talk, predicting it would be "a 2 loss start for them after [this] weekend! Hehe".

The Mystics certainly didn't have it all their own way in their match against the Pulse in round one, sneaking home 51-47. Like the Magic last weekend, the Mystics struggled to maintain momentum with a concerted defensive effort lifting the side to eventual victory.

Results aside, the parallels between the teams' first round efforts will see both teams eager for a better showing and could set things up for a close encounter.

In other round two clashes this weekend, Central Pulse were to face Southern Steel today while tomorrow the Queensland Firebirds play the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Brisbane and the West Coast Fever are up against the Melbourne Vixens in Perth.

On Monday the Canterbury Tactix will play the NSW Swifts in Christchurch.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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