Netball: Big test for the Mystics as they take on Firebirds

By Dana Johannsen

Auckland side need to keep their focus on task in hand if they are to build on last week's success

Laura Langman says the Mystics need to approach the match with the right mindset. Photo / Dean Purcell
Laura Langman says the Mystics need to approach the match with the right mindset. Photo / Dean Purcell

The little things made a difference for the Mystics in their opening win of the season, but midcourter Laura Langman believes it will take a big shift if her side are to notch up win number two in Brisbane this weekend.

The Auckland side finally got on the board in the ANZ Championship with thrilling extra time win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds last week, as their new-look midcourt finally clicked into place.

Those newly-established connections will now face an even sterner test in the form of the typically ferocious Firebirds defence in Brisbane tomorrow. The Firebirds, well led by Australian defender Laura Geitz, will swoop on any weaknesses in the Auckland side's attacking play.

In their first road-trip to Australia this year, the Mystics struggled to adjust to the tight marking style of the Melbourne Vixens, who were able to quickly break down the visitors' shaky links, leaving them dumbstruck.

Langman said to avoid a similarly ugly performance in Brisbane this weekend, the team need to approach the test with the right mindset.

"If the calls don't go our way we've just got to make sure we get on with the job and not react to it, and that's something I think the Australians do so well when they come to New Zealand, and we can learn a lot from that and how they approach it," the veteran Silver Ferns said.

"We've got to be aware of that real tough marking style and make sure we account for that in our attacking play. So we need to ensure that we're doing the preparation work to get free and we're not just standing there waiting for the ball, which can be the case when we get tired."

Reading the history between the two sides will do little for the Mystics' mindset. They have never beaten the Firebirds in their seven previous meetings, with their average losing margin being by 11.6 goals.

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said this weekend will be a real test of her side's maturity and professionalism, with the players needing to push aside all the external factors if they are to past the Firebirds.

"We really need to narrow our mindset and make sure we focus on the immediate task at hand. It is especially important we get our timing right on attack and play away from the defensive pressure," said Fuller.

The Mystics are not the only side facing the pressure to perform across the Tasman this weekend, which features all New Zealand v Australian clashes, with the Central Pulse also desperately in need of points following their lapse against the Tactix in round four.

The Pulse, who like the Mystics were tipped as one of New Zealand's great hopes in 2014, are chasing their first win on Australian soil when they take on the Swifts on Monday night.

The Southern Steel are also in Australia this weekend, kicking off the round against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide tomorrow.

Back here, the Magic — the only team in the league that remain unbeaten — take on the West Coast Fever in Tauranga, while the Tactix host the Vixens in Christchurch.

In previous seasons, a weekend of all transtasman clashes has generally spelt doom for the Kiwi teams. But after some surprise results last weekend, there is renewed optimism that the New Zealand sides will at least prove competitive.

Last weekend was the first time in six and a bit seasons Kiwi teams had a clean sweep in the transtasman match-ups, with the Steel, Magic and Mystics all triumphing over their respective rivals — the Magic's win coming on Australian soil.


ANZ Championship Round five

Tomorrow: 2.18pm Adelaide Thunderbirds v Southern Steel, Adelaide; 4.18pm Queensland Firebirds v Northern Mystics, Brisbane; 7.20pm Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic v West Coast Fever, Tauranga.

Monday: 7.40pm Mainland Tactix v Melbourne Vixens, Christchurch; 9.40pm NSW Swifts v Central Pulse, Sydney.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 21 Oct 2014 18:41:31 Processing Time: 372ms