Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Mystics looking to restore pride

Grace Rasmussen of the Mystics looks to pass the ball out. Photo / Getty Images.
Grace Rasmussen of the Mystics looks to pass the ball out. Photo / Getty Images.

The Northern Mystics are looking to restore a buffer on the chasing pack and some pride when they take on the Southern Steel in tomorrow's ANZ Championship match-up.

The star-studded Auckland side, thought to be New Zealand's strongest chance in the transtasman league, suffered a humiliating 13-goal loss to the Queensland Firebirds last week.

That loss, their second in the space of three games, saw the third-placed Mystics lose ground on the competition leaders and are now facing pressure from a tightly bunched group of teams sitting in the midtable.

Debbie Fuller's side will need to respond strongly in Dunedin tomorrow in order to re-establish their reputations as competition heavyweights.

The Steel have proved capable of claiming some big scalps this year, as evidenced by their first-round upset over the Magic, and will have taken plenty of positives away from their performance against Thunderbirds in Adelaide last week.

While the Steel were on the wrong end of a 10-goal scoreline, they proved extremely competitive in patches against one of the competition favourites.

Buoyed by successive wins, the Magic are looking to continue that momentum against Central Pulse in Monday night's clash in Porirua.

After starting the season with a demoralising four-game losing streak, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty side have gone some way to righting their ship with back-to-back wins in their last two outings.

The Magic provided the only highlight for New Zealand fans in last week's round of all transtasman clashes, with their 16-goal win over the West Coast Fever the only Kiwi victory of the round.

Successive losses have Pulse coming into the match from the opposite side of the ledger but Magic import Khao Watts said her side were well aware of the Wellington side's capabilities, particularly at the defence end. "You can't take any team lightly in this competition and Pulse are definitely a team that can cause some upsets, so we are going to go into this game as we would any other team," Watts said.

Another big win this weekend could bring the Magic back within striking distance of the top four.

In Monday night's late game, the Canterbury Tactix look to be in line for another tough night when they take on the Firebirds in Brisbane.

ANZ Championship

Round 7
2.10pm Adelaide Thunderbirds v West Coast Fever, Adelaide; 4.20pm NSW Swifts v Melbourne Vixens, Sydney; 7.20pm Southern Steel v Northern Mystics, Dunedin.

Monday: 7.40pm Central Pulse v Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, Porirua; 9.40pm Queensland Firebirds v Canterbury Tactix, Brisbane.

- NZ Herald

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