Mystics 60
Steel 49

On top of the transtasman league, but not on top of their gameplan.

The Northern Mystics seized the outright lead in the competition with a 60-49 win over the Southern Steel in Auckland tonight.

But for most of the match they more resembled coach killers than competition slayers.
Despite dropping just two games this season, the Mystics title credentials remain dubious with a dominant 60 minute performance remaining elusive.


Mystics coach Debbie Fuller has been working hard to instil more discipline in her side, ensuring their preparation and mental approach is top notch for every game. It was evident from tonight's performance that she still has a long way to go in this regard, with complacency appearing to set in during last week's bye round.

The Mystics took three quarters to really get going as the hard-working Steel side gave them a lesson in focus and determination.

It was probably unjust then that the scoreline ended up flattering the Mystics the way it did, with the Steel deserving more return for their efforts than simply the satisfaction of watching the Mystics squirm in the opening half.

Confrontational on defence and clever on attack, the Steel had the Mystics rattled for much of the first three quarters. The visitors held a 28-24 lead at halftime, but had led by as many as eight goals at one stage in the second period.

But normal service resumed for the Auckland side later in the game after sharpshooter Cathrine Latu, who was left out of the opening line-up, took the court at halftime.

With the more established attacking combination, the Mystics swagger returned. The set moves were coming off, the bounce of the ball going their way, the invisible thread returned.

But Latu credits a stern halftime talking to from coach Debbie Fuller as the reason for the late turnaround.

"We did get a pretty good talking to in the changing room, so we were all pretty terrified as well," said Latu

"Instead of going out to put out a good performance, we went out to win, and I think we just needed to refocus and go out and do what we did well."

Sensing the opportunity to try new combinations against the lowly ranked Steel, Mystics coach Debbie Fuller opted for the more mobile pairing of Maria Tutaia at goal shoot and Grace Rasmussen at goal attack.

The new combination looked a little ragged, the Mystics opening with seven turnovers on attack in as many minutes - quite possibly a season record. With the Mystics taking some time to bed in the changes, the Steel opened out a 7-3 lead by mid-way through the first spell.

Down the other end of the court the veteran shooting pairing of Jodi Brown and Donna Wilkins were dictating the play, with the timing and understanding between the pair impeccable.

After taking a surprise 15-13 lead at the first break, the Steel further accelerated after the break, prompting Fuller to introduce Jess Moulds at goal keep to help out the frustrated Anna Harrison.