Netball: Major bit of Magic needed

By Simon Kay

Magic goal shoot Jo Harten in action against the Thunderbirds. Photo / Daily Post
Magic goal shoot Jo Harten in action against the Thunderbirds. Photo / Daily Post

Recent history will be against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic when the ANZ Championship finals series kicks off today.

Facing a do-or-die minor semifinal against the New South Wales Swifts in Sydney this afternoon, the Magic will have to overturn their past few results against the Australians if they wish to remain in the hunt for a second title.

The Swifts have won three of their four clashes against the Magic, including a 55-43 victory two weeks ago to secure their finals berth. But former Swifts coach Julie Fitzgerald is confident her new side can upset that form book and secure a tough road victory.

"We don't really mind being on the road," Fitzgerald said. "And I think the girls are quite keen to have another crack at the Swifts."

The teams' rivalry dates back seven years to the inaugural ANZ Championship final, when the Swifts followed up a major semifinal victory over the Magic to repeat the dose a fortnight later in the showpiece.

The Magic returned serve two years after that double disappointment, defeating the Swifts in the preliminary final before going down to the Thunderbirds in the decider.

As the only Kiwi side still in contention for the title, the Magic can call on ample experience in the playoffs, having become the only team to have appeared in every post-season.

The Swifts, on the other hand, are in their first finals appearance since 2011, and first-year coach Rob Wright hopes to keep the season going for another week.

"We set our goals as a team at the start of the year to be in the finals so that's one box we've ticked off."

The host of the grand final will be determined on Monday when the Melbourne Vixens host the Queensland Firebirds in the major semifinal.

- APNZ

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