Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Young gun Price the standout in Magic's win

League great's daughter likely to come under pressure to pick national allegiance.

Magic goal keep Leana de Bruin, front, fights for possession with Caitlin Bassett of the Fever. Photo / Alan Gibson
Magic goal keep Leana de Bruin, front, fights for possession with Caitlin Bassett of the Fever. Photo / Alan Gibson

The pressure on 18-year-old Jamie-Lee Price to declare her national allegiance will intensify after the youngster played a starring role in the Magic's 17-goal rout over the West Coast Fever last night.

In a match that pitted several top-name international acts against one another, it was Price, the daughter of Australian rugby league great Steve, who was the stand-out on court in just her second start for the Magic.

Australian-born Price, who has lived in New Zealand since 2005 after her father signed a deal with the Warriors, has so far been non-committal when asked which country she would like to represent at international level.

Any decision on her future appeared a long way off for the youngster, but after impressing over the first five rounds of the competition, she is likely to come under pressure to make a call sooner than expected.

The young wing defence had her best outing of the season in Tauranga last night, picking up two intercepts and six deflections, to force Australian midcourter Chelsea Pitman to the bench at halftime.

While the 65-48 scoreline would suggest a dominant performance from the Magic, the home side struggled to get into the match early on, trailing 17-12 at the first break before producing a stunning turnaround in the second spell. Written off at the start of the season, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side remain the only unbeaten team in the league.

After a poor outing against the Steel last weekend, the timing and confidence appeared to have returned to the Fever attack end last night, with Pitman and Natalie Medhurst delivering some beautiful balls into star shooter Caitlin Bassett.

With Jo Harten and Ellen Halpenny looking hesitant to go to the post down the other end of the court, the visitors were able to open up a handy five-goal lead at the break before stretching their lead to seven in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

In danger of finding themselves out of the contest before halftime, the Magic then rediscovered their connections on attack to produce a run of seven unanswered goals and draw level at 21-all. As the Magic midcourt upped their defensive intensity, Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin began to assert their dominance over the Diamonds shooting pairing of Bassett and Medhurst, with some brilliant turnover ball.

Leading 33-26 at halftime after outscoring the visitors by 12 goals in the second period, the Magic continued to extend their lead, forcing the Fever to make a raft of changes.

The win gave New Zealand a 2-1 lead over Australia in the round of all transtasman clashes after the Southern Steel notched up their first win on Australian soil, ending a six-season drought against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

After securing their first win of the season last weekend in a one-goal thriller against the visiting West Coast Fever, the Steel again held firm in a tense final quarter to pull off an unlikely 61-59 win against the reigning premiers.

Leading by one-goal at three-quarter time, Steel captain Jodi Brown said her side took the court in the final spell resolute in the knowledge that they had what it took to win the game.

The Mystics could not match the Steel's heroics across the Tasman, falling to the Queensland Firebirds 58-50 in Brisbane. The loss, the Mystics' fourth from five outings, all but puts them out of the playoffs with the Auckland side likely needing to win all eight remaining games.

Magic 65
Fever 48

- NZ Herald

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