The struggling Magic looked to have regained their mojo in Melbourne yesterday only for it to inexplicably disappear just as they were on the verge of dealing the table-topping Vixens their first loss of the year.
Leading 39-34 with five minutes left on the clock, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty side looked well on their way to securing their first win in Melbourne in five seasons, and more importantly, their first points of the year.
But after an impressive 55 minutes of netball, the Magic suddenly went gun-shy in the dying stages, failing to score a goal over the final five minutes as they helplessly stood by and watched the home side run them down.
The result kept Vixens in the box seat at the top of the table, while Magic were left staring at four straight defeats.
Vixens shooter Tegan Caldwell slotted the crucial goals for her side, drawing the score level at 39-all with just under a minute to go, before converting the resulting centre pass. But it was the Vixens defence that proved the heroes down the stretch, with Geva Mentor, Bianca Chatfield and Julie Corletto closing down the Magic attack that had dictated the pace for much of the game.
The luckless Magic also copped a couple of head-scratching calls over the pressure-filled final minutes, with Irene van Dyk pinged for offensive penalties on consecutive Magic possessions to let the Vixens back in.
Van Dyk otherwise had a very strong game against one of the competition's best defensive lines. Laura Langman was also a stand-out in the middle, with a high work-rate on both attack and defence.
There was little to distinguish between the top and bottom placed teams as the lowly Magic made the early running playing a disciplined and patient brand of netball.
The Vixens struck back from a shaky start as the game developed into an arm wrestle with both defensive ends playing influential roles.By Dana Johannsen Email Dana