Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Mystics take out pre-season tournament

The Northern Mystics took out the pre-season netball tournament. Photo / Getty
The Northern Mystics took out the pre-season netball tournament. Photo / Getty

The Northern Mystics thrived in yesterday's ANZ Championship summer shootout - now captain Maria Tutaia wants to see that confidence carry through to the regular season.

The Mystics beat the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the final to claim the pre-season silverware for the Auckland leg of the tournament, which also featured the Southern Steel, Queensland Firebirds and Adelaide Thunderbirds.

The five remaining ANZ Championship franchises took part in another tournament in Sydney under an identical format.

"We may have won the shootout but at the end of the day, it's about winning games during the season," said Tutaia. "We'll take great confidence from these games, but we need to keep pushing ahead."

It's a rare occurrence for a transtasman league competition to feature two New Zealand sides in the final, but before Kiwi fans' hopes are raised, it should be pointed out the final day of the tournament featured a couple of new rule innovations.

Crucially, the addition of a three-point scoring zone towards the outer edge of the circle had a major impact on the results, with the New Zealand teams better suited to the less-structured game style.

The defending champion Firebirds, one of the star attractions at the Auckland tournament, looked uncomfortable with the altered rules, with their attacking game plan set up around star Jamaican shooter Romelda Aiken.

The Firebirds suffered the biggest loss of the day, 44-19 to the Magic, who later toppled the Steel to win a place in the final. The Mystics earned their passage to the final with wins over the Steel and Thunderbirds.

It was no surprise to see the Mystics triumph on their home court, with the game made for star shooter Tutaia. But it was Cathrine Tuivaiti who stood up in yesterday's final, nailing a couple of crucial long bombs when the Magic threatened in the second half.

Tuivaiti drew a huge cheer from the crowd when she put the match beyond doubt with a three-pointer with two minutes to play to take a 28-17 lead.

While the crowd seemed to enjoy the addition of the three-point zone, awarding three points offered too much reward for long-range shots. If the aim of trialing the new rule was to add another dimension to the game, it failed.

Rather than encourage teams to mix up their attacking strategy and keep defenders thinking, it only made the play more predictable.

ANZ Summer Shoot-Out

Auckland Results:

Mystics 35 Steel 19
Magic 44 Firebirds 19
Mystics 37 Thunderbirds 28
Magic 23 Steel 20
Firebirds 34 Thunderbirds 31


Mystics 31 Magic 24

- NZ Herald

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