Netball: Veteran to rescue as Bailey bails out Mystics

By Dana Johannsen

Dynamic midcourter more than a `Band Aid' solution as the pressure mounts.

Mystics goal shoot Cathrine Latu shoots under pressure. Photo / Getty Images
Mystics goal shoot Cathrine Latu shoots under pressure. Photo / Getty Images

The Mystics were forced to look to the past to help engineer a victory over the lowly Mainland Tactix last night, with former captain Temepara Bailey helping dig the Auckland side out of a hole.

In a see-sawing battle, a stunning 20-11 second quarter from the Mystics, sparked by the introduction of Bailey seven minutes into the period, ultimately proved the difference with the determined Tactix otherwise matching, and at some points outshining, the home side.

The 65-62 win was the first time the Mystics have recorded back-to-back victories in the ANZ Championship since 2012 and helped keep them in touch of the top four, with only goal differential separating fourth from eighth place.

Since stepping away from the game at the end of the 2012 season, the only netball Bailey has played is a couple of club games. She said she found her reintroduction to the ANZ Championship nerve-racking.

"I was really nervous actually, I was a little bit hesitant and I think that showed in the first three passes I made to the crowd," she joked.

In truth, it did not look like as if Bailey had missed a beat in her two years away from the game, with the livewire midcourter slotting seam-lessly into place at wing attack alongside former Silver Ferns teammates Maria Tutaia and Laura Langman.

But Bailey has stressed she is not a long-term solution to the Mystics midcourt.

"I've been given the two-week window and my husband won't be happy if I go any longer than that. I'm kind of like a Band Aid. Once the wounded are healed I get peeled off and thrown away," she said.

What shaped up as an uninspiring match-up between the two bottom-ranked teams in the league took on added interest with the inclusion of the Silver Fern midcourt legend in the Mystics line-up on the eve of the clash.

But with the Mystics experiencing a spate of niggly injuries in the midcourt, the latest being a knee injury to Erikana Pedersen, Bailey was lured out of retirement to plug the gap.

The home side struggled to contain Tactix import shooter Mwai Kumwenda, with the Malawi international's athleticism and unorthodox style proving difficult for the defenders to get a read on. But it was on attack where the Mystics looked especially uncomfortable, as Tactix midcourters Jade Clarke and Hayley Saunders did an impressive job of shutting down the space for Laura Langman and Nadia Loveday.

Six goals down at the first break, the Mystics continued to struggle to find their attacking rhythm early in the second spell, prompting the introduction of Bailey and a massive momentum shift to put the home side ahead 34-31 at halftime.

It would be too simplistic to put the turnaround just down to dynamic midcourter, with the addition of young defender Temalisi Fakahokotau at quarter time also helping to strengthen the home side's defence. The 18-year-old came up with some stunning plays, finishing the match with four intercepts.

Mystics 65
Tactix 62

- NZ Herald

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