Netball: Magic look to nail first win

Irene van Dyk of the Magic. Photo / Getty Images
Irene van Dyk of the Magic. Photo / Getty Images

The Magic aren't used to being on the bottom of the ANZ Championship netball table and, although they are in esteemed company, they want to get out of it as soon as they can.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty side face a defining match against fellow strugglers NSW Swifts in Sydney on Monday. Heavyweights of previous years, the Magic, Swifts and Queensland Firebirds prop up the foot of the table, with the trio yet to open their accounts after back-to-back losses in the opening two rounds.

It is uncharted territory for Magic but coach Noeline Taurua is not about to hit the panic button. There was more spark in the six-goal loss to Northern Mystics last weekend than in their lacklustre effort against the Southern Steel and Taurua is searching for more of the same to get Magic really rolling.

"We've never been in this predicament before so early in the competition so obviously there's a bit of feeling,'' she said. "The intent is definitely there, we just need more action behind it and more fire in the belly.

That's actually the crux of probably us as a team, what we're hunting for.

"We've always started well and puttered out towards the end. At the moment this competition seems so unpredictable - there has definitely been nothing too predictable so far - so we've just got to worry about our own product and getting it better from last week.''

Still tinkering with her midcourt options, Taurua was pleased with the efforts of talented playmaking goal attack Julianna Naoupu, who played a strong hand in the shooting circle against the Mystics. The coach is confident her side is not far away from firing.

"It's just keeping faith in what we're doing, belief in ourselves and each other as a team and keep on keeping on,'' she said. "Pushing ourselves to put into action that missing ingredient.

"We see it sporadically but it's not consistent enough or repetitive enough to make a big impact on the game. That's all it is for us. It's definitely not desperation but we have to learn from our lessons.

"We're not that far away. We haven't played well so far but we've still only been a couple of intercepts off the pace and that's well within our capacity to be able to produce that.''

With strong coaching credentials behind her, Lisa Beehag is chasing her first win in a new era for the Swifts. She has already ruffled a few feathers on her arrival, in particular showing the door to Swifts stalwart Catherine Cox.

Despite their lowly positions, the match-up between the two winless sides will be an intriguing one. It will also be the Swifts first match at home this season and the first offshore excursion for the Magic.

"They're rebuilding but I think, like any team in this competition, anybody can beat anybody on a given day, and that's the mentality we need to be able to take into this competition and any team we come up against,'' Taurua said.

"When they get on a roll, their transition through court is clinical and amazingly fast so we will have to be on our toes.

"At the end of it, we're the masters of our own destiny. There are certain things we've got to take to the court and, in that respect, we are moving in the right direction.''

- APNZ

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