Netball: Magic win ANZ Championship

Magic players celebrate after winning the ANZ Championship. Mark McKeown/Musae Studios
Magic players celebrate after winning the ANZ Championship. Mark McKeown/Musae Studios

Vixens 38
Magic 41

The Magic have broken an Australian stranglehold on the trans-Tasman netball competition, beating the Vixens 41-38 in Melbourne today.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side became the first New Zealand team in the competition's five-year history to lift the trophy, fighting back from five goals down in the second half to disappoint the capacity crowd at Hisense Arena.

The Vixens were seeking to become the first side to win the competition twice but were denied by the Magic in their third grand final appearance.

It was a game dominated by defence and featured an abundance of errors as the sense of the occasion appeared to affect both sides.

The first half was scrappy and, at times, dour, but that all changed in a thrilling second spell as the Magic pegged back the deficit and eventually stole into the lead with some clutch shooting in the waning minutes.

Irene van Dyk turned in another near-flawless display from the shooting circle, nailing 25 of her 26 attempts, and her accuracy in the final minute eventually clinched the victory.

The opening quarter featured some of the nervy play expected of a grand final, with the two teams combining to make 12 turnovers in a low-scoring affair. Neither side let their opponent gain any ascendancy and, after trading goals for much of the quarter, the Vixens took a slim 8-7 lead to the first break.

The teams continued to match each other goal-for-goal throughout the second quarter but, with the scores locked at 16 and five minutes remaining, the Vixens began to open up a buffer.

They finally earned the first two-goal advantage of the match before ramping up the pressure to jump out to a 22-18 lead after a forgettable first half.

If not for some wayward shooting from Karyn Howarth and Tegan Caldwell _ which saw Melbourne miss 11 attempts to the Magic's four _ the visitors may have found the deficit insurmountable as they went to the sheds.

As it was, the Magic struggled as Melbourne continued to keep them at arm's length for much of the third quarter. But the New Zealanders kept composed and eventually reduced the gap to two goals with two minutes left on the clock.

Momentum appeared with the Magic but Melbourne managed to get the lead back to three at the final break. But, at 31-28, the Magic would have been buoyed by the chances heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

Those hopes were further boost when the Magic clawed to within a goal with 10 minutes left in the season, and van Dyk soon levelled the scores for the first time since the second quarter.

Julianna Naoupu soon handed the Magic a rare lead and, after Leana de Bruin picked up her third intercept of the match, the goal attack doubled her side's advantage.

The Vixens again levelled the scores but a Melbourne miss allowed van Dyk to seal the game and, with it, the championship.

Vixens 38 (Howarth 22/29, Caldwell 16/26)
Magic 41 (van Dyk 25/26, Naoupu 16/24)
HT: 22-18

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 21 Oct 2014 19:29:39 Processing Time: 450ms