In a frantic yet frustrating battle where neither side gave a centimetre, The Good Oil Tactix and the Splice Construction Magic drew 46-46 at the Auckland Netball Centre.
In the space of just a week, fans witnessed only the second draw in ANZ Premiership history, and in a way, it was a fitting result where there was very little between the two sides in both statistics and in strength of wills.
The Magic were desperately searching for just their second win of the season, and had their moments – all be they brief - in the lead. Meanwhile the Tactix, coming off a one-goal win over the Mystics 24 hours before, wanted to win to stay in touch with table toppers, the Pulse - the draw putting them in third spot.
With both teams on back-to-back games, the Magic took an early lead, 7-5, after Georgia Tong, Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler – making her 50th appearance at this level – put a ton of pressure on the Tactix shooters.
Tong made the most of her first start for the Magic, and despite her height disadvantage to Tactix goal shoot Ellie Bird, her leap for the ball was sublime.
But the Tactix soon caught up as they made it tough for the Magic to weave the ball into their final third. They led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Captain Sam Winders was able to marshal the Magic attack from centre, and worked in well with Whitney Souness, to bring them back into the game. With Souness and shooters Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou continuing to build on their connection, they benefitted from scoring off most of the ball they overturned, and soon drew level again.
The Tactix rallied, but they were guilty at times of putting too much power behind their passes into Bird and Te Paea Selby Rickit, in her milestone 100th national league game.
Tied 25-25 at halftime, the Tactix made a shooting change, bringing on Jess Prosser at goal attack and moving Selby-Rickit closer to the post. Bird, who had been accurate with 19 of her 21 shots, went to the bench – but it wasn't the end of her night.
The next 12 minutes were incredibly low-scoring, with both defensive ends ramping up the pressure.
Tong went off clutching her side, bringing Ariana Cable-Dixon on a centre, and the line-up behind her moved back one position so Fowler and Mikaere were reunited in the circle.
The Tactix looked to Samon Nathan to add some firepower at wing defence, but it was the Magic who fired just before the break to lead 34-32.
Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek reverted to her original shooting combo for the last spell, but it was at the other end, where they really started to gain traction. Their experienced defenders Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau really came to the fore, and a run of three nudged the Tactix back into the lead.
With less than two minutes on the clock, the scores were tied again. Both sides didn't let off in intensity, and scoring off their four centre passes, the game remained locked up at fulltime.