The final match of the all-Auckland netball derby has been won in decisive fashion by the Northern Mystics, beating their crosstown rivals the Northern Stars 69-61 at Trusts Arena on Sunday.
It was the third and final meeting of the two Auckland teams in the ANZ Premiership regular season, with the Mystics coming out on top in all three meetings to take home the Northern Challenge trophy.
Plenty of defensive penalties didn't help an otherwise relentless Stars side who once again failed to shut down the standout combination of Grace Nweke and Elisapeta Toeava.
Stars coach Kiri Wills lamented the continued dominance of Nweke in the shooting circle and the significant number of penalties she forces her defensive opponents into, due to her commanding play.
"It's really hard to get the ball off of Grace and I thought she had an amazing game," Wills said.
The Mystics went to the first quarter break with a handy 20-16 lead, continuing in the fashion that has seen them win their last five games of the competition.
A shift in intensity from the trailing Stars side saw them come within one goal midway through the second quarter but unforced errors saw them fail to take control of the game, the Mystics maintaining a three goal advantage at halftime.
Stars shooter Monica Faulkner made a brief appearance in the third quarter, having been absent since the first round of the competition with a knee injury.
But it was a physical final quarter that helped the Mystics put away an eight-goal win that propels them five points clear of the Stars at the top of the Premiership table.
Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick praised the Stars' performance which certainly improved on last week's showing, the scoreline not reflecting the tight battle for large chunks of the clash.
"When you play against the best you try to bring out your best," Fitzpatrick said.
The Mystics meet the fourth-place Southern Steel next week in Invercargill where they will be looking to increase their lead at the top of the table, while the Stars take on the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch.