The Mainland Tactix have claimed a crucial victory in their quest to make the ANZ Premiership final.
A 43-42 win over the Northern Mystics keeps the Tactix second, pulling five points clear of the Mystics with two games remaining in the regular season.
All was not lost for the Mystics however, finishing the match with a five-goal run to earn a bonus point, though they now have to win both their final games, while hoping the Tactix lose their last two in order to make the final.
Recovery will be key for the Tactix, as they play the competition-leading Central Pulse tomorrow night. Beat the Pulse, and the Tactix will book a rematch with the Pulse in the final in Invercargill on August 23. Lose, however, and the Mystics will still have a chance — needing to beat the Northern Stars (on Friday) and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic (on Saturday).
If that scenario unveils, the race will come down to the Tactix needing a victory in their final game against the Southern Steel on Sunday.
Patience was crucial for the Tactix in their victory today, with their attackers often using their baseline players to reset play, and often needing dozens of passes before finding their shooters.
Captain Jane Watson said that her side had practiced patience and valuing possession.
"We've really worked on just keeping in control — it doesn't matter how many passes it takes, as long as we eventually get it there."
With the arms of experienced Mystics defenders Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick over every ball, the Tactix went in and out of their goal circle, having a mammoth 76 feeds but only 48 attempts.
On the other hand, the Mystics are still struggling with their goal attack position, after losing Silver Fern Bailey Mes to injury in pre-season.
Grace Nweke is always a star for her side, shooting the majority of goals for the Mystics, including a 37/42 effort today, but receives little support from her goal attacks.
Ellie Bird (30/33) is a similar tall timber for the Tactix, but was well supported by goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit (13/15), compared to the combined effort of Filda Vui and Saviour Tui for the Mystics who had only five successful shots between them, as the Mystics left their run too late.
In today's other game, a goal from Jamie Hume with two seconds left gave the Stars a 46-45 win over the Magic. The Stars remain fourth, with the Magic last.