Netball: Magic lose thriller

By Daniel Richardson

Geva Mentor of the Vixens is beaten to the ball by Irene van Dyk of the Magic during the round four ANZ Championship match. Photo / Getty Images.
Geva Mentor of the Vixens is beaten to the ball by Irene van Dyk of the Magic during the round four ANZ Championship match. Photo / Getty Images.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's woeful start to the transtasman netball season continued this afternoon when they were toppled 40-39 by the Melbourne Vixens in Australia.

The Magic led for most of the game and were the better side on display, but Tegan Caldwell's final goal with 17 seconds left gave the home side a dramatic come-from-behind win.

The Magic, who have made the playoffs every season since the competition's inception in 2008, were the only team to enter week four without a win to their name after losses to the Southern Steel (49-47), the Northern Mystics (47-41) and the NSW Swifts (49-47) to begin the year.

The general school of thought in the transtasman league is that teams will find it out of their reach to make the post-season if they lose five games or more during the year and this result has done no favours for the Magic.

Melbourne began the weekend with three wins from as many matches with a strong goal difference of plus-28 from their opening games.

The Vixens were playing at home for the first time in the competition after starting the campaign with three road fixtures against fellow Australian sides, the Queensland Firebirds, West Coast fever and the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

The Magic led by as many as six goals during the game and began well as they silenced the vocal Melbourne crowd.

Defender Casey Williams and centre Laura Langman were impressive for the visitors, although Julianne Naoupu struggled in the shooting circle and the goal attack was pulled at half time after she shot on nine from 17 attempts and was replaced by Jess Waitapu.

Waitapu provided a good foil for veteran Irene van Dyk as she shot five from seven during the final two quarters, while van Dyk finished the game with 25 goals from 30 attempts.

Melbourne goal keep Geva Mentor enjoyed a combative one-on-one contest with van Dyk throughout the game as she claimed a team-high four rebounds.

- APNZ

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