Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Magic momentum continues with win

Ameliaranne Wells fights it out with Leana de Bruin during tonight's ANZ Championship match. Photo / Alan Gibson
Ameliaranne Wells fights it out with Leana de Bruin during tonight's ANZ Championship match. Photo / Alan Gibson

Magic 54
Pulse 44

The Magic's mid-season revival is gathering pace after notching up their third straight win with an dominant victory over the Central Pulse in Tauranga tonight.

The 54-44 win was easily the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side's strongest performance of the season as they continue to rebuild confidence following a disastrous start to the season.

Just a few weeks ago the Magic were anchored to the bottom of the table having failed to deliver a win in the opening six rounds. Tonight's result saw the Magic leap into second place in the bizarrely-poised New Zealand conference standings, but still nine points adrift the table-topping Steel.

As one of the most consistent performers in the competition over the first eight seasons, the Magic's poor start to 2016 came as a major surprise, with Julie Fitzgerald's side once again tipped to lead the way for the Kiwi teams.

Their progress was undoubtedly hampered by a injuries to two of their most experienced stars - veteran defender Leana de Bruin (foot) and key midcourter Grace Rasmussen (calf).

It's no coincidence the Magic finally broke their duck this season in round seven when Rasmussen returned to the fold, with de Bruin's comeback a week later.

Both stars made their presence known to the Pulse early on in tonight's outing, with de Bruin forcing a turnover from visitors in their opening possession. Rasmussen meanwhile set the tone early on attack, letting the ball go into the circle with confidence.

In one particularly memorable passage of play from the Magic, Rasmussen unleashed a long flat ball from the transverse line to connect with shooter Jo Harten on the fly. The English import finished the move off with a lay-up. On the back of dynamic play such as this, the Magic shot out to a 14-8 lead late in the first spell. But a five-goal run from the Pulse towards the end of period saw the visitors peg the deficit back to 15-13 by quarter time.

That proved to be the only major lapse from the Magic side all night, as the home side took control of the match with a 18-11 second quarter effort to hold a handy nine-goal lead at the long break.

Pulse coach Tanya Dearns tried a variety of defensive and midcourt combinations to try and disrupt the Magic's flow, but despite some impressive touches by Phoenix Karaka and Katrina Grant, the visitors were unable to make any in-roads on the Magic's lead.

- NZ Herald

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