Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic jolt back to life with win

Magic player, Leanna de Bruin, fights for the ball with Tactix player, Anna Thompson. Photo / Alan Gibson
Magic player, Leanna de Bruin, fights for the ball with Tactix player, Anna Thompson. Photo / Alan Gibson

The Magic have jolted back to life just in time, arresting their alarming late season lull with a big win over the Mainland Tactix in Tauranga.

The clinical 18-goal win was just the settler the Magic needed following some sloppy performances over the last two rounds, but more importantly it helped improve their goal-percentage, which looks like it will be crucial to determining the finishing order in the transtasman league.

What loomed as an uninspiring match-up earlier in the season took on more significance in recent weeks after the Magic dropped two games on the trot, bringing on fears of a late season collapse. After blitzing their way through the first half of the season, recording just one loss in the opening seven rounds to establish themselves among the pace-setters in the competition, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side's momentum has peetered out over the past three weeks. They were lucky to escape with a one-goal win over the Thunderbirds in round nine, before crashing to a 10-goal loss to the Pulse the following week and then a shock defeat at the hands of the Steel.

The two losses didn't cost the Magic any places on the ladder but it saw the points table condense markedly, with only goal percentage separating the top four sides heading into round 12.

With no more room for error, the urgency was evident in the Magic's performance as they rediscovered their confidence and connections on attack to deal the Tactix another heavy loss.

Magic captain Casey Kopua said with a tough match-up against the third-placed NSW Swifts in Sydney next week, it was vital her side rediscovered their form.

"That's exactly what we needed, I think the belief in ourselves really showed out on court and that's what we have to do each week," she said.

"[The Magic attackers] knew the last couple of weeks they haven't been putting the performance out there and I think they did that tonight. Just having that confidence to let the ball go makes a huge difference."

The Canterbury side competed well in patches, stringing together some brilliant phases of attacking play, but the Magic's experienced defensive pairing of Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin also had some strong periods of dominance, which the homeside ensured they capitalised on.

After fairly level pegging through most of the opening quarter, the Magic made their move late in the period to take 16-13 lead at the first change of ends, with young midcourter Jamie-Lee Price coming up with a couple of crucial late steals. They continued to kick on after the break as doubt hesitancy began to creep into the Tactix attack end and their ball movement slowed to allow the Magic defence more opportunities to disrupt the play.

By mid-way through the period the Magic had charged out to a 10-goal lead, virtually putting the result beyond doubt before the halftime break.

The Tactix did well to prevent any further damage on the scoreboard for most of the third period, sticking with the Magic for most of the way before the homeside again produced a late surge just before the break.

The Magic saved their best quarter for last, putting their foot down to charge through the 70-goal mark on their way to an impressive victory.

- NZ Herald

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