The Magic have been given the best possible test heading into the transtasman league play-offs, pulling off a thrilling one-goal win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Hamilton this afternoon.
The 56-55 win was a huge confidence booster for the injury-depleted Waikato-Bay of Plenty side, who copped a 24-goal drubbing at the hands of the Queensland Firebirds on the same court six days ago.
The Magic looked like they were in for the same treatment against the Adelaide side today, opening with a horror 17-9 quarter as the attack end once again struggled to find its timing without influential midcourter Grace Rasmussen, who continues to nurse a turnover.
But the home side sparked to life in the second quarter, fighting their way back to trail by just one at halftime, before taking a two-goal lead heading into the final spell.
The Thunderbirds got the jump on the Magic early in the final quarter, converting a couple of early turnovers to put the homeside in chase mode for much of the quarter, although no more than two goals separated the two sides over the closing stages.
In the end it was a Leana de Bruin deflection and regather which got the Magic over the line, with the veteran defender pouncing on a mis-timed pass into the Thunderbirds goal circle to win possession for her side. The turnover was fittingly converted by import shooter Jo Harten, who was the calming influence in an at-times ragged attacking performance from the Magic.
Harten finished with an impressive haul of 40 goals from her 44 attempts - a match high.
The Magic will likely meet the Mystics in next week's elimination final, with the winner to face the Southern Steel in the New Zealand conference finals and guarantee themselves a place in the ANZ Championship semifinals.
The Mystics all but secured their place in the play-offs with a 62-54 win over the Mainland Tactix yesterday. The Central Pulse can still theoretically climb to third spot on the New Zealand conference ladder, but reality suggests otherwise. The Pulse will need to beat the Melbourne Vixens by 40 plus goals to book their maiden playoffs appearance.