Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic suffer fifth consecutive loss

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic shooter Ellen Halpenny landed just one from seven in the second quarter. Photo / Alan Gibson
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic shooter Ellen Halpenny landed just one from seven in the second quarter. Photo / Alan Gibson

The once-mighty Magic's abrupt transtasman league decline continued tonight as they crashed to their fifth consecutive loss of the season.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side were undone by a clinical West Coast Fever outfit in Tauranga, with only a strong final quarter sparing them complete annihilation. The 14-goal scoreline could have been much worse, with the Magic trailing by 16 at halftime, and 20 heading into the final turn after being thoroughly outclassed by the Fever for the opening three spells.

The visitors turned in a particularly impressive second quarter, restricting their opposition to just six goals as their suffocating through-court defence forced error after error from the hapless Magic.

Once again missing the influence of Silver Ferns midcourter Grace Rasmussen, who continues to battle a calf injury, the Magic did little to help themselves, putting one another under pressure with some poor option-taking on attack.

A horror shooting performance from Ellen Halpenny, who landed just one from seven in the second quarter, also proved a major setback for the homeside.

Despite another brutal night at the office, coach Julie Fitzgerald believed there were a lot more positives from last night's performance than their previous outings against Australian teams, which yielded losses of 28 and 23 goals against the Swifts and Vixens respectively.

"If you don't look at the scoreboard, we did a whole lot of things a lot better tonight and there were good signs we've got something to build on, whereas before we've been quite discouraged," said Fitzgerald.

The Magic, last year's New Zealand conference winners, will need to make further improvements very quickly if they are to continue their record as the only side to have featured in every ANZ Championship finals series.

Fitzgerald hopes to welcome Rasmussen back to the line-up for next week's outing against the Mainland Tactix, while she is less optimistic about captain and star defender Leana de Bruin, who suffered another setback with a foot injury this week.

- NZ Herald

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