Netball: Chance for the Magic to make up for disastrous start

By Dana Johannsen

Leana de Bruin wants to look ahead. Photo / Getty Images.
Leana de Bruin wants to look ahead. Photo / Getty Images.

There can be no turning back the clock for the Magic, but this weekend's transtasman league clash provides them with the opportunity to show how they should have started their season.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty side will host the Southern Steel - the team that upstaged them in round one.

The opening round loss set the Magic on a disastrous path as they slumped to four straight losses to leave the star-studded team languishing at the bottom of the table.

But over the last five weeks they have undergone a strong recovery, climbing back up to sixth on the ladder and in touch with the top four.

The Magic have found some dominant form - their last three wins have been by double figures, including a 23-goal battering of the Canterbury Tactix. They will be looking to dish out similar treatment to the Steel in Hamilton on Monday in order to build some strong momentum for their tilt at the play-offs.

For Magic defender Leana de Bruin, there's no need to focus on the revenge factor to draw motivation for this weekend.

Rather they only have to look at the path ahead of them to know that any slip-up from here on in will be costly.

"It's just an important game that we have to win," said de Bruin. "I don't live in the past and what's happened has happened ... hopefully I've learnt from that and I just move on."

The other all-New Zealand clash this weekend will see the Tactix take on the Central Pulse in Christchurch.

Buoyed by consecutive wins - a first for the franchise - the Pulse could climb into the top half of the ladder with a third straight win.

The table-topping Northern Mystics will head in to their bye weekend satisfied with their position in the competition, but probably not so satisfied with their consistency shown over the first nine rounds.

After a patchy opening half of the season, the Auckland side looked to have turned a corner with their brilliant win over the Melbourne Vixens two weeks ago - the first win by a New Zealand side across the Tasman this year.

But they followed it up with a lacklustre showing against the bottom-of-the-table Tactix last week.

The one-goal win did little to improve the Mystics' goal percentage, putting them in danger of slipping back to fourth after the weekend's action.

The Mystics' two closest rivals on the ANZ Championship ladder - the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens - face off this weekend, while the fourth-placed NSW Swifts take on the up-and-down Queensland Firebirds.

If the Thunderbirds and Swifts win their respective fixtures, all top four teams will be tied on equal points with seven wins and two losses.

Should that remarkable situation develop, the race for the minor premiership will be wide open.

Tomorrow: 2.10pm Queensland Firebirds v NSW Swifts, Brisbane; 4.20pm Melbourne Vixens v Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne; 7.20pm Canterbury Tactix v Central Pulse, Christchurch.

Monday: 7.40pm Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic v Southern Steel, Hamilton.

- NZ Herald

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