Netball: Time to discover truth about Mystics, Magic

By Dana Johannsen

Mystics secured a major coup in signing midcourt dynamo Laura Langman. Photo / Dean Purcell
Mystics secured a major coup in signing midcourt dynamo Laura Langman. Photo / Dean Purcell

After being on opposite ends of extreme scorelines in their respective opening round clashes last weekend, it is expected tonight's transtasman league match-up between the Mystics and Magic will provide a clearer picture of where they sit in the pecking order.

With the Magic 24-goal victors over the Tactix in the opening round, and the Mystics demolished by the same margin by the Vixens in Melbourne, two of the big questions to emerge after the opening round of the competition were: Are the Magic really that good? And are the Mystics really that awful?

The Magic at the very least proved they are not going to be the easy-beats many expected them to be this season after their rampant opening win over the Tactix last weekend.

For a virtually all-new line-up, the Magic's cohesion and understanding on attack was impressive.

But given the standard of their opposition, there is still doubt over whether the unit have the talent needed to maintain their record of never missing the ANZ Championship play-offs.

The Magic themselves aren't reading too much into their big win over the Tactix, and recognise they still have much to prove. "We're not getting carried away with that result," said coach Julie Fitzgerald.

"We were very happy on Saturday night, we were still smiling on Sunday but Monday was all about getting ready for the next game.

"Every week we want to take a step up from what was achieved the week before and most definitely this week coming up against the Mystics, we'll have to step up again."

There has always been a keen rivalry between the neighbouring franchises with Magic holding a decisive 11-3 advantage from the previous 14 match-ups, this year perhaps holding a little extra edge after player movement during the off-season.

Mystics secured a major coup in signing midcourt dynamo Laura Langman as well as Nadia Loveday and Jodi-Tod Elliott from Magic while attackers Grace Rasmussen and Malia Paseka were enticed down State Highway One, from Auckland, to a new home with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side.

"I think players always want to play particularly well against their old teams, so I'm sure that won't be any different for the players that have gone to the Mystics," Fitzgerald said.

But it is the match-ups in the Mystics shooting circle between two long-standing combinations that holds the most interest tonight, with the battle between Mystics shooters Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia and their Silver Ferns teammates Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin in the Magic defensive end expected to be key to the outcome.

After producing the Mystics worst shooting performance in the history of the competition against the Vixens last weekend with a 59.6 per cent accuracy rate, Latu and Tutaia will be eager for a much better showing at home.

The Mystics will be feeling slightly better about last week's result after watching the star-studded West Coast Fever side come similarly undone against the slick Vixens unit yesterday.

The Fever showed a lot more backbone though, producing a spirited late comeback to win the final quarter 19-11 and ensure a more respectable 65-56 loss. The Adelaide Thunderbirds are also two-from-two after wearing down the Queensland Firebirds 55-48 while the Tactix to causing the upset of the round against the NSW Swifts before going down 68-57. The Tactix trailed by just two at three-quarter time before the visitors took control of the match.

ANZ Championship Round 2

Northern Mystics v Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic
Tonight, 7.40pm, Trusts Stadium Waitakere
Previous meetings: 14 (Magic won 11, Mystics won 3)

Results this round:
Central Pulse 67-56 Southern Steel
West Coast Fever 56-65 Melbourne Vixens
Queensland Fireirds 48-55 Adelaide Thunderbirds
Mainland Tactix 57-68 NSW Swifts.

- NZ Herald

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