Netball: Defence still key to clash

By Dana Johannsen

Magic player Laura Langman gets in a tangle with Mystic goal defence Anna Scarlett. Photo / Christine Cornege
Magic player Laura Langman gets in a tangle with Mystic goal defence Anna Scarlett. Photo / Christine Cornege

Another big defensive effort will be required by the Northern Mystics tomorrow if they are to claim their second Aussie scalp and maintain their unbeaten start to the transtasman league season.

After a stand-out performance in their win over the West Coast Fever last week, the Mystics will again look to Anna Harrison (nee Scarlett) to lead the way against the Adelaide Thunderbirds. With both sides boasting strong depth in their defence end, Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson is expecting a "low scoring and very defensive game" in Auckland.

The star-studded Thunderbirds line-up suffered an unexpectedly heavy loss to the Vixens last weekend, with the Melbourne defence restricting the Adelaide side to just 34 goals.

The Mystics will need to keep the Thunderbirds' star shooter Carla Borrego similarly quiet tomorrow, with the Jamaican shooter potentially lethal once she gets the ball in hand.

The winless Magic also have a tough transtasman assignment this weekend, taking on the competition leaders the Melbourne Vixens on their home patch. With no points on the board , the Magic have put themselves under extreme pressure for the remainder of the season.

They can probably only afford one more loss this season if they are to secure a place in the play-offs.

Magic coach Noeline Taurua said while the team were aware of their precarious position, there was no feeling of desperation in her camp.

"We've all spoken about [the pressure we're under], and if we can't pull these wins out under this pressure, we'd never be able to win [the title] anyway," she said. "We're here to win, and we don't back away from that, but we've also got to be not so outcome focused and really concentrate on our processes and strategies from week to week."

In many respects Taurua was pleased with the Magic's performance in their loss to the Swifts last week.

Their centre pass to score ratio was the "best we've ever done", placing them at the top of the rankings in that statistical category for round three.

The Magic's shooting statistics were also impressive, while the midcourt looked to be finding their connection through court with the help of a more settled line-up of Jess Tuki (WD), Laura Langman (C) and Khao Watts (WA).

Round four gets under way today with another transtasman clash in Dunedin. The Southern Steel will take on the West Coast Fever, who stayed in New Zealand this week after their loss to the Mystics on Monday.

Round 4

Today: 4.20pm Southern Steel v West Coast Fever, Dunedin.

Tomorrow: 2.10pm Melbourne Vixens v Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, Melbourne; 4.20pm NSW Swifts v Queensland Firebirds, Sydney; 7.20pm Northern Mystics v Adelaide Thunderbirds, Auckland.

Monday: 7.40pm Central Pulse v Canterbury Tactix, Porirua.

- NZ Herald

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