Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic outclass Swifts in big win

Jesse Waitapu of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. File photo / Joel Ford
Jesse Waitapu of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. File photo / Joel Ford

For so long it has been all about the Magic's "big three" - Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman and Casey Kopua.

But tonight it was their support acts providing the talking points for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side as they outclassed and out-energised the NSW Swifts 61-35 in Tauranga.

The Magic's all-new, all-Jess - Tuki and Waitapu - frontline impressed in the first half against their experienced Swifts opponents, producing stand-out efforts in a strong all-round performance from the defending champions.

The pair helped the Magic out to a 14-goal halftime lead, before coach Noeline Taurua opted to make changes to her frontline - just as she did in last week's 23-goal win over the Tactix.

New recruit Ellen Halpenny and import Khao Watts were introduced at halftime at goal attack and wing attack respectively, but the pair did not have the same impact as the first half partnership.

Taurua has now tested every possible combination in her frontline, with the two Jess' looking to be their most dynamic and creative pairing.

With Swifts defenders Sonia Mkoloma and Mo'onia Gerrard dishing out some close attention to Magic sharpshooter van Dyk, Waitapu stepped up to relieve pressure in the circle, leading all scorers in the first half with 17/20.

Waitapu opened up the Magic attack end with her strong drives and deceptive movement, while Tuki chipped in with some clever feeds.

With both players having spent the bulk of the Magic's championship-winning run on the bench last season, Taurua will be pleased to see the pair responding to the challenges she set for them.

While the Magic lacked the same fluency on attack in the second half, it did not stop them extending out their lead with Kopua (nee Williams) and Leana de Bruin seemingly turning the ball over at will in the Swifts attack end.

Up 45-27 heading into the final turn, Taurua took the opportunity to bring on Auckland schoolgirl Jamie-Lee Price, the daughter of former Warriors and Kangaroos star Steve, for her ANZ Championship debut. The 17-year-old impressed with her composure against Diamonds midcourter Kim Green, and will only get better will more court time at this level.

Although outclassed in every area of the court, the Swifts were quick to blame the umpiring for their poor showing, with both Gerrard and coach Lisa Beehag expressing their displeasure with the 77-38 penalty count.

The Magic's big win wasn't the only one-sided transtasman clash today, with the Mystics slumping to a 53-80 loss to the West Coast Fever.

Maria Tutaia's post-match comments said it all as the Mystics were left shellshocked in Perth, their defensive frailties were laid bare by a rampant Fever side.

"God, I don't even know what happened there."

After showing some fight in their opening loss the Vixens last week, the trip across the Tasman brought out the worst in the Mystics.

The visitors displaying an embarrassing lack of defensive and mental fortitude to let in 80 goals, as the Fever set a new scoring record for the league, eclipsing the Steel's 75-goal tally against the Tactix 24 hours earlier.

WBOP Magic 61
NSW Swifts 35

- NZ Herald

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