Netball: Magic feel momentum is building

By Ingrid Tiriana

All the signs point to bigger things to come from Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic as they build up to their toughest games this year.

Precision play and quality ball saw the team take another step up when they trounced Southern Steel 66-47 in round 10 of the ANZ Championship at Claudelands in Hamilton last night.

Magic have continued to improve each round and put on a quality performance against Steel, a great momentum-builder for tougher games still to come, starting with competition spoilers Central Pulse this coming Sunday.

Combinations and links through the court are improving every match and Magic are starting to play some very smart netball, clinical in their execution and with no sign of panic despite their precarious position in the competition.

After a four-match losing streak they need to clock up four wins from four games remaining in ordinary play and keep their goal average up, in case making the top four comes down to goal differential as it has done in previous competitions.

Key combinations at both ends of the court did the business for Magic last night, captain and centre Laura Langman blazing through the court and timing her passes to goal attack Julianna Naoupu and goal shoot Irene van Dyk perfectly.

For their part the shooters kept the Steel defenders guessing with plenty of movement and accurate shooting, van Dyk nailing 39 from 40 attempts and Naoupu chiming in with 27 from 32.

At the other end defenders Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin got plenty of deflections and worked hard to confuse the space in the Steel shooting circle where Jodi Brown was in superb form.

Wing defence Elias Shadrock and wing attack Khao Watts were solid through the court and around the shooting circles, linking well with their team mates and rounding out another excellent all-round performance from Magic.

While the first quarter was an arm wrestle which Steel won 14-13, Magic took the lead early in the second spell as timing and speed of the ball clicked in.

They went into half time with a handy 29-22 lead, building on that in the third spell which they ended 47-34 up before finishing Steel off in the final quarter to take the biggest score to date in this year's competition.

Langman and Magic coach Noeline Taurua expressed pleasure at another good win and another step up for the team but neither are under any illusion about the fact they'll have to ramp it up even further in the coming weeks.

After Central Pulse on Sunday, Magic will face a formidable trio in Northern Mystics, Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds respectively to round out ordinary play ahead of play-offs.

Whether Magic are still in with a chance of making the play-offs will become clearer in the next couple of weeks.

In other round nine matches over Queen's Birthday weekend, Firebirds beat NSW Swifts 50-45, Melbourne Vixens toppled Thunderbirds 48-40 and Pulse took down Canterbury Tactix 54-47 while Mystics and West Coast Fever had the bye.

This week's results place Vixens at the top of the points table on 14 points, ahead on goal differential of Mystics, who also have 14.

Thunderbirds, Firebirds and Swifts all sit on 12 while Magic and Pulse now have 10 each, Steel and Fever remain on 4 and Tactix have 2.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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