The Northern Mystics held their nerve tonight to win the battle of Auckland and pull within a point of the Northern Stars at the top of the ANZ Premiership.
The Stars came into the clash with six wins from seven this season but fell behind in the first half and were unable to complete a late comeback as their city rivals hung on to a 63-60 victory at Trusts Arena.
Grace Nweke's superior accuracy proved the difference for the home side, with the goal shoot scoring 60 goals from 64 attempts and making several pressure shots in the closing stages.
Ill-discipline hurt the Stars in the first half and saw an understrength Mystics side take a seven-goal lead into halftime. But the visitors edged their way back into the contest in the closing stages of the third quarter, scoring five of the last six goals to pull within four.
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The Stars managed to halve that deficit as the game entered its final stages but the Mystics looked after possession well under intense defensive pressure, with the connection between Nweke and wing attack Elisapeta Toeava remaining a reliable route of attack throughout the contest.
The two sides will meet twice more within the next month as they seek to maintain their edge over the rest of the competition.
Earlier, a last-second goal from George Fisher lifted the Southern Steel to a thrilling 59-58 victory over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in Dunedin.
The visitors finished with a flourish as five unanswered goals from Caitlin Bassett levelled the scores at 57-all. And after Fisher edged the Steel back in front, Bassett again found the net with 14 seconds to play as the game seemed set for extra time.
But Fisher had other ideas, collecting the rebound from her own miss and making no mistake with the second attempt as time expired. The English international finished with 50 goals from 54 attempts, sending the Steel into third and consigning the Magic to a seventh straight loss.