Netball: Mystics lose grand final rematch

By Kris Shannon

Bailey Mes of the Mystics looks to pass the ball out. Photo / Getty Images.
Bailey Mes of the Mystics looks to pass the ball out. Photo / Getty Images.

Firebirds 56
Mystics 43

The Northern Mystics failed to exact revenge for last year's ANZ Championship grand final defeat, going down 56-43 against the Queensland Firebirds on the Gold Coast today.

The Mystics were soundly beaten by the Firebirds in last season's showpiece, and that dose was repeated at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

Queensland were ripe for the picking, heading into the game with just one win from five this season, but returned to something resembling their best after a tight first quarter.

The Firebirds seized control of the contest in the second quarter, breaking the deadlock and winning the period 18-7, and kept the Mystics at arm's length for the remainder.

The Auckland-based side were third in the 10-team competition before the game, and had no fear about their first trip to Australia this season after a couple of breakthrough wins across the Tasman during their run to the final in the last campaign.

But they rarely threatened the defending champions today, dropping their all-time record against the Firebirds to 0-6.

The loss threatened to go from bad to worse when goal shoot Catherine Latu, leading the competition with a 97.6 shooting percentage, had to limp off shortly after halftime after going over on her ankle.

The Mystics breathed a sigh of relief when Latu returned in the fourth quarter but her team couldn't find their way back into the game, failing to reduce the deficit to single figures as the Firebirds eventually ran out 13-goal victors.

That prospect appeared unlikely early in the match, with the Mystics taking momentum into the first break after cancelling out Queensland's early advantage to draw level at 14.

But the home side sparked into life at the start of the second quarter, opening up a five-goal lead in the blink of an eye. The Firebirds were finding success with long range passes into Jamaican international Romelda Aiken - a strategy on which their 2011 success was based.

Queensland pulled further ahead as the quarter wore on, eventually taking a 32-21 lead into the major break. Their confidence appeared restored after a troubled early season, and they were helped by the Mystics turning over the ball 12 times as Laura Geitz snaffled three interceptions.

The home side's advantage had grown to 16 after the third quarter, with the Firebirds' defence restricting the visitors to only 15 goals in the middle two quarters.

And the Firebirds comfortably closed out the contest, with Aiken's 34 goals and Natalie Medhurst's 22 proving more than enough to grab the two competition points.

HT: 32-21

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 29 Jul 2014 09:23:46 Processing Time: 396ms