Netball: Mystics claim much needed win

By Niall Anderson

Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Tuivaiti of the Mystics. Photo / Getty
Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Tuivaiti of the Mystics. Photo / Getty

They're not completely back on track, but the Northern Mystics' season is being slowly resurrected onto the rails.

The Mystics picked up their first win of the ANZ Championship season tonight, accounting for the Adelaide Thunderbirds 52-49 to inject life into a previously static campaign.

It was by no means a convincing performance, but after suffering heartbreaking early losses, anything will do for Debbie Fuller's side.

In fairness, the Mystics' fruitless start to the campaign contained some rough luck. Losing two games by a goal apiece and drawing a third hinted at a side whose underlying performances greatly exceeded the zero in the wins column.

The Thunderbirds presented a chance to steady the ship, with the Australian cellar-dwellars having lost every game by at least 15 goals.

However, all of those losses were against Australian sides, and the Adelaide franchise proved to be more competitive against the meeker New Zealand Conference opposition.

Only two sides have ever held the mantle of the best regular season New Zealand side, with the Waikato Bay Of Plenty Magic leading the way on six occasions, and the Mystics twice.

The balance of power may still prove to have shifted, with the Magic holding an 0-4 record and the Mystics now 1-1-3, but the star-studded Mystics at least showed signs of the side which topped the New Zealand Conference last season.

Their most impressive work was done early in the match, where an opening 10-3 buffer was manufactured. The hosts were busy defensively, interrupting passing lanes and capitalising upon several sloppy Thunderbirds errors.

Anna Harrison proved to be as irritating as the courtside thundersticks, piling up interceptions and deflections as she battled adeptly against the Thunderbirds shooting duo of Carla Borrego and Erin Bell.

Borrego would find more success before the half, using her size smartly to create simple opportunities as the Thunderbirds briefly turned the contest into a monotonous back and forth arm wrestle.

The Mystics' offensive flow through the midcourt stalled, scoring just one goal in six minutes, before a 17-11 third quarter advantage gave the Thunderbirds a five goal lead.

However, Harrison's defensive efforts were complemented by a strong midcourt presence by the impressive Serena Guthrie and the active Kayla Cullen as the Mystics turned around the match, and potentially their season.

Northern Mystics 52 (Cathrine Tuivaiti 28/29, Maria Tutaia 24/30)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 49 (Carla Borrego 36/42, Erin Bell 13/18)
Halftime: 27-25

- NZ Herald

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