Netball: Magic lose again to be only winless side

Laura Langman of the Magic secures possesion. Photo / Getty Images.
Laura Langman of the Magic secures possesion. Photo / Getty Images.

What was already a bad situation got worse tonight for the Magic after they were beaten 49-47 by the Swifts in Sydney in their ANZ Championship netball match.

The two-time runners-up and a side who has never finished outside the top three are now the only winless team in the competition after three rounds. It's not yet terminal but it's not good.

The Magic, who are stacked with international players, had aspirations of finally winning their first championship but right now they will take a first win. They are a team under pressure and that will only ramp up considering they face a hot Melbourne Vixens side in the next match.

Their shooters generally did a good job, with Irene van Dyk shooting 24 from 25 and Julianna Naoupu 23 from 28, but they didn't get enough ball into the shooting circle.

Their midcourt continues to falter but they don't seem to have a lot of options and coach Noeline Taurua didn't tinker with her side at all throughout.

Winning in Australia has always proved difficult - the Magic have won only four of 15 across the Ditch - but the Swifts were ripe for the picking considering they hadn't won either going into the match. But the home side seemed to want it more, particularly down the final stretch, and they recorded a morale-boosting win.

The fist quarter was an even affair but the Magic put the squeeze on the Swifts in the second quarter, restricting them to just six goals to take a 24-21 lead.

It didn't help that the Swifts were heavily penalised - they incurred 38 contact and eight obstruction penalties to the Magic's 20 and three respectively - and it gave the visitors plenty of ball to work with.

They were far from fluid as they worked possession up the court but remained patient as they attempted to get the ball into the circle.

Goal shoot Van Dyk came under considerable pressure from Sonia Mkoloma and was restricted to just 11 shots by the main break but goal attack Naoupu continued to impress, often letting the ball go on long-range shots.

The pace of the game went up a notch in the third quarter, as both sides found some rhythm, and it also saw an increase in physicality. There was one particularly tough collision between Van Dyk and Mo'onia Gerrard late in the quarter, something that has happened countless times at international level.

It seemed to suit the Swifts more as they levelled the match 37-37 at three-quarter time and opened out a crucial three-goal lead early in the final stanza, a lead they held onto for the rest of the match.

It meant the Magic needed to chase the game and their chances looked grim when when Naoupu dislocated a finger. But she played on, given it was on her less dominant shooting hand, and seemed to shrug it off.

The Magic had their chances as each side were guilty of coughing up possession, but they didn't treat the ball with enough respect and came up short.

They need to find a few answers, and quickly, or their season could soon be over.

Swifts 49 (Susan Pratley 26/31, Carla Dziwoki 23/25) Magic 47 (Irene van Dyk 24/25, Julianna Naoupu 23/28). 15-13, 21-24, 37-37, 49-47.

- APNZ

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