Former Silver Ferns skipper Casey Kopua has marked her return to top-level netball with a dominant defensive performance in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's 23-goal drubbing of the Mainland Tactix this afternoon.
Kopua, who missed the final season of the transtasman league last year after taking time away from the sport for the birth of her first child, looked fit and hungry in her first game back as she helped her side get their ANZ Premiership campaign off to an impressive start.
The Magic looked especially slick in the third quarter as they produced a stunning 24-11 surge after halftime to set up a huge win over the struggling Tactix.
In what was an all-round dominant performance, Kopua would have been particularly gratified to keep the Tactix to under 50 goals - indicating the defence had a big impact on the match.
The 71-48 win ensured their stint as "Super Sunday" hosts was a success, with the crowd at Claudelands Arena delighted with the performance of the home side.
The final scoreline would have been a bitterly disappointing for the Tactix, who competed reasonably well over the first half, and even dictated the pace of the game early on.
The smaller, more mobile, shooting pairing of English import Kadeen Corbin and Anna Thompson caused the Magic defence a few issues in the opening quarter, with the pair using movement and ballspeed to beat the opposition.
But when it came time for the Tactix to put the ball through the net, that's when the long reach of Kopua and 1.92m defender Kelly Jury had its impact.
Corbin and Thompson struggled to see over the arms of Jury in particular, and looked reluctant to go to the post. By the third quarter the Magic defence had clearly got into the heads of the Tactix shooters, with both Corbin and replacement shooter Brooke Leaver's accuracy rate dropping into the 60s.
With the Tactix missing two key defenders in Jess Moulds and Temalisi Fakahokotau, the visitors were unable to cause similar disruptions in the Magic attack end. South African import Lenize Potgieter had a field-day in her first appearance for the Magic, netting 54 of the team's 71 goals at an accuracy rate of 93 per cent.
Earlier this afternoon the Southern Steel opened the ANZ Premiership era with a convincing 75-57 win over newcomers the Northern Stars.
The Central Pulse take on the Northern Mystics in the final match of the Super Sunday triple header tonight.