The last time the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel faced off was in last season's New Zealand Conference Elimination Final. The teams couldn't be separated by the end of regular time.

For a half of Sunday's ANZ Championship game at Rotorua Energy Events Centre between the two sides, it looked as though the same thing could happen.

The teams were locked at 12-12 at the end of the first quarter and 29-29 at half time.
But the second half was a different story with the Steel hitting the ground running and eventually running out winners 63-53.

The Magic made the early running in the first quarter, at one stage getting a four goal break on the southerners, but the Steel clawed their way back despite some strong defence from the home team. The second quarter was tight and even with no team able to make a telling break.


Steel goal shoot, Jamaican import Jahniele Fowler-Reid, finished the half with a 19 from 20 shot success rate (95 per cent) with the Magic's Jo Harten and Malia Paseka on 81 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

The Steel's former Magic coach Noeline Taurua brought Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit on at goal defence at the break and the difference was immediate with the Steel making a blistering start to the half, pushing out to a nine goal lead at one point.

Resisting a mini-revival from the hosts, they went into the final quarter 39-46 ahead.

They pressed on in the fourth quarter as Fowler-Reid maintained her mid-90 percent shooting success rate while Harten and Paseka's each dropped to 71 per cent.

The Magic were without Silver Ferns Leana de Bruin and Grace Rasmussen with Kelly Jury stepping into de Bruin's role in just her second ANZ Championship game.

Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald admitted having the two players missing affected the team.

"But I was really proud of our young defenders tonight. When you think they are under 21, I think they did a really good job tonight.

Fitzgerald said a period of about five minutes at the start of the third quarter was critical.

"We've got to treasure the ball a little bit more. We keep having patches like the beginning of that third quarter where we lose the game quickly and that's what we've got to eliminate. You just can't afford to do that against a team that can score as quickly as the Steel can."

"I was very happy with our mid court. Courtney (Tairi) wasn't ready to come back from her injury at the start of the season, but she's had to, and she played beautifully and I thought Sam Sinclair held the centre position down very well."

The Magic have the bye next round.