Netball: Magic's slump continues as Steel shine

By Niall Anderson

Shannon Francois looks to disrupt the Magic. Photo / Getty
Shannon Francois looks to disrupt the Magic. Photo / Getty

Southern Steel coach Noeline Taurua has consigned her former team to more misery, with the Steel defeating the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 63-53 today.

Taurua coached the Magic for 11 seasons, but oversaw their downfall from the opposite bench as the Magic's shocking start to the season continued.

The Magic have lost three straight games to open the season, with the loss to the Steel adding to a 28 point humbling by New South Wales Swifts and one goal loss to Central Pulse.

A perennial playoff side, the Magic have finished no lower than fourth since 2003, but a dominant second half showing from the Steel has left them anchored to the bottom of the New Zealand conference.

Towering Jamaican goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was at the heart of the Steel victory, nailing 44 of her 47 attempts. Fowler-Reid's combination with goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was smooth, with Selby-Rickit providing 15 assists, while wing attack Gina Crampton and centre Shannon Francois combined for just three turnovers in a sound midcourt showing.

All of the Steel's shots came within the inner circle, resulting in an excellent 89 percent showing, while the Magic shooting pairing of Malia Paseka and Jo Harten barely cracked 70 percent.

At the defensive end, Steel goal keep Storm Purvis shone with seven deflections, as the Magic turned the ball over 23 times - the chunk of which came in their stilted second half showing, after the game was tied at halftime.

The Magic are still to welcome back injured Silver Ferns Leana de Bruin and Grace Rasmussen, and have experience with slow starts - being 0-4 in 2012 before rebounding to win the title.

The Steel now have two wins and a draw for the season as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Elsewhere, the Swifts crushed the Adelaide Thunderbirds 68-44 to move to the top of the Australian Conference, while the Thunderbirds join the Magic in being winless through three games.

Steel 63 (Fowler-Reid 44/47, Selby-Rickit 19/24)
Magic 53 (Paseka 31/45, Harten 20/27, Halpenny 2/2)

- NZ Herald

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