When the Waikato BOP Magic hosted the Central Pulse at the Energy Events Centre on Monday it was an opportunity for Rotorua fans to get out and support a side brimming with youthful enthusiasm.

While the Magic ended up losing 43-37, the team with an average age in the low 20s were impressive enough in patches to suggest there could be success in their future.

Any team so full of youth will be lacking in experience. That is where 33-year-old captain Casey Kopua comes in - the oldest in the team by eight years, she shoulders much of the leadership responsibilities but appears to be thriving.

Against the Pulse on Monday she was exceptionally vocal, urging her teammates to "keep working hard" and "make every pass count". Kopua has announced her retirement from all forms of the game at the end of this season, but her three intercepts, two rebounds and all-around hustle on Monday suggested she has not lost her touch.

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She said the biggest work-on for her side after Monday's game was decision making.

"I think it was better than the last time we played the Pulse. Still not our best performance but we showed patches of it.

"It's just decision making in those crucial moments. Unfortunately that does [come with experience] and, I guess, just learning from one moment to the next. You don't want to make the same mistakes, that's when it can get quite frustrating. As long as people are growing and learning.

"There were parts of that game that you can come off and say 'That went really well, I'm really proud of that'. It's just finding that balance."

Waikato BOP Magic captain Casey Kopua is leading a youthful but enthusiastic team in this year's ANZ Premiership. Photo / Photosport
Waikato BOP Magic captain Casey Kopua is leading a youthful but enthusiastic team in this year's ANZ Premiership. Photo / Photosport

Kopua missed a large chunk of last season due to injury and it was no coincidence that the Magic failed to win a game after that. But, she said the youthful energy in the 2019 side was just as important as experience.

"It is because it's contagious, for me anyway at the other end. You just know that when you're out there everyone's trying to give their best. It's about trying to get the best out of each other but together at the same time."

She said playing in different parts of the region was exciting.

"I always love coming to Rotorua. It's like another home away from home and the crowd's always keen. It's nice."

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Magic coach Amigene Metcalf said she did not think her side were far off the Pulse on Monday.

"I don't think there was much difference to be honest. I think both teams played very defensive games and I think in the end their experience shone through and their accuracy on the shot.

"We're still a young attacking side, so we have to improve."

Waikato BOP Magic goal defence Casey Kopua and goal keep Kelly Jury leap to block the shot of Pulse sharpshooter Aliyah Dunn. Photo / Photosports
Waikato BOP Magic goal defence Casey Kopua and goal keep Kelly Jury leap to block the shot of Pulse sharpshooter Aliyah Dunn. Photo / Photosports

She said every time her young players went up against more experienced opposition it was a learning opportunity.

"It probably didn't feel too good for them at certain times, but I think when they reflect on the game they'll realise it's tough but we can do it if we set our minds to it.

"We practise physicality, it's part of the game and most have grown up with it, but I think it's that constant pressure they put on that is really hard to break."

The Magic travel to Invercargill next Monday to play the table-topping Southern Steel. Metcalf said passing accuracy would need to improve in that one.

"Just a few timing issues on attack and finishing the shot too. We missed far too many shots. We do have a squad that we know they can all take the court and do the job we want, so it's really just trying things and seeing what formula works.

"I thought our defensive end were really strong. They got a lot of ball for us and created a lot of pressure."