Magic nail extra-time thriller
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 9:42p.m.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic maintained composure in a white-hot trans-Tasman netball league preliminary final, downing Northern Mystics 57-48 in an extra time thriller in Auckland on Monday.
The nail-biting win means the Magic will travel to Melbourne for next Monday's grand final against the Vixens.
A combination of outstanding defence and cool shooting in the final quarter seemed to have the game won for the Mystics, but the Magic's never-say-die season continued with yet another unlikely victory.
The Aucklanders looked in control going into the final four minutes, but the Magic dug deep defensively and levelled the scores at 44-44 after 60 minutes on the back of a superb Leana de Bruin intercept.
The momentum shift continued into extra time, the Magic scoring the first five goals then keeping cool to lead 51-46 at the break.
Silver Ferns goal attack Maria Tutaia's early accuracy on the long shot was outstanding, and her work off the ball created plenty of options, but she faltered under pressure in extra time.
Long-reaching Magic defenders Casey Williams and de Bruin lifted to new heights, the Magic's midcourt and shooters responded and the visitors strolled away for yet another sudden-death win.
The scores were tied 12-12 after the tightest of openings and the second quarter delivered more of the same as the Magic edged ahead 24-23 at halftime.
The Mystics' midcourt work, crisp and clean in the opening stages, faltered slightly in the third quarter. The Magic's smothering midcourt defence forced a couple of hard-won turnovers, and they eased out to a three-goal lead midway through the spell.
But the Mystics lifted, showing more patience in moving the ball around and waiting for the opening. Shooter Cathrine Latu stepped up, her ball skills and unpredictability around the circle lifting the Mystics to a 36-34 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
A tired-looking Magic drifted off the pace, and the Mystics looked to have the game secured. But the Magic have learned how to fight over the last 11 weeks of must-win matches, and overran the Mystics 13-4 in 14 hectic minutes of extra time.
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