Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic pick up first win

Magic shooter Malia Paseka. Photo / John Borren
Magic shooter Malia Paseka. Photo / John Borren

The Magic are finally on the board in 2016, breaking through for their first win of the season just as transtasman league hits the halfway point.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side overcame an eight-goal deficit early on in the third quarter to pull off a tense 58-57 victory over the Mainland Tactix in Nelson this afternoon. The homeside were chasing their third win of the year and a chance to keep some pressure on conference leaders the Southern Steel.

But the Tactix, who have twice come out on top in one-goal thrillers this season, could not hold on this time against a Magic side desperate for some points following a miserable start to the year.

The Magic have traditionally led the way for the New Zealand sides in the competition, but this year they have found themselves rooted at the foot of the table as they battled injury and form issues.

Magic shooter Jo Harten, who has stood in as captain with regular skipper Leana de Bruin sidelined with a foot injury, was delighted her side were finally "off the donut".

"I'm just ecstatic - the girls played their hearts out tonight, I played my heart out - I'm so happy to get those two points," she said.

"We train our butts off every week and nice to finally put that out on court for the first time this year."

The Magic today welcomed key midcourter Grace Rasmussen back into their line-up for the first time since the Silver Fern's fleeting appearance in round one, during which she was forced from the court after a flare up of a calf injury. Rasmussen's absence has had notable impact on the Magic's attack end, with her vision and timing sorely missed.

The return of Rasmussen also saw a return of some level of fluency to the Magic attack, with Harten in particular looking a lot more comfortable with Rasmussen supporting her on the circle edge.

Leading 17-15 in the opening quarter, it looked like the Magic of old had returned. But attacking wobbles returned to haunt their game in the second spell, as the hard-working Tactix defence did all they could do disrupt the visitors' rhythm.

Down the other end the young Magic defence struggled to have the same impact against the outstanding shooting pairing of Mwai Kumwenda and Bailey Mes, who have proven difficult for even the most experienced opposition to break down.

With the Magic's shooting accuracy slipping to just 72 per cent in the first half, the Tactix won the second quarter 17-10 to surge ahead to take a five-goal lead at the long break.

A change to the Magic shooting end in the third quarter, which saw the introduction of Paula Griffin in place of Malia Paseka, helped spark a revival from the visitors in Nelson, with Griffin helping to create more space for Harten.

The Magic drew level at 39-all with just over five minutes left in the third quarter, but a late run from the Tactix saw them restore a 46-43 lead by the final turn.

In a tense final quarter, the defining moment came with just over two minutes left on the clock, when the Magic capitalised on an attacking error from the Tactix, taking a one-goal lead from the resulting centre pass.

In this afternoon's earlier match-up, the well-drilled NSW Swifts wore down the Melbourne Vixens 59-51 after a tightly contested opening half.

The Mystics and Pulse will wrap up round seven action when they meet in Auckland tomorrow night.

- NZ Herald

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