WITH both the Mainland Tactix and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic playing their second game of the round and coming off tough battles there was plenty of feeling in their Round 5 clash, as the Magic pushed to secure their second win of the season. The game went right down to the wire with the lead swinging back and forth in what was another defensive masterpiece from both sides with intercepts and deflections aplenty. But in the end neither side could be separated with 46 goals apiece as the Magic claimed their second draw in as many weeks.
The Tactix took a while to settle into the game with the Magic capitalising on an early turnover from Te Paea Selby-Rickit in her 100th national league game, sparking a goal scoring spree for the Magic. They slotted three goals straight thanks to both Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou dominating under the post while the Tactix looked rattled in attack, unable to create any type of space in the attacking third and forced to throw the ball around before Ellie Bird rose to the challenge sinking the first of the term.
Opting for a different starting line-up the Magic seemed to have all the answer with Georgia Tong having a day out against her 196cm opponent, owning the front space and using her aerial ability to win back plenty of possession and send the ball flying back into attack. Tong’s constant pressure and physicality forced the Tactix to shoot from range with Bird and Selby-Rickit looking shaky on the shot. Holding a two goal lead midway through the term thanks to Latu-Meafou backing herself from distance and McPhee plying her trade under the post the Tactix needed a spark and winning the ball off the centre pass did just that. With a renewed sense of confidence the Tactix fought their way back in to hit the front, allowing their ball speed and quick transition play to catch the Magic defenders off guard and establish a three goal lead heading into the break.
The Magic attacked the second quarter with plenty of intensity and hunger as captain Sam Winders relished the extra court space out in centre. It took no time for Waikato Bay of Plenty to eat into the margin, scoring the first goal of the quarter within 20 seconds. Their increased pressure at the centre pass was also evident, with the defensive unit looking to clog the transverse line however the Tactix remained calm and composed with ball in hand. With the Magic pushing in attack, goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau inserted herself into the contest getting plenty of hands to ball and disrupting any type of rhythm in attack while Jane Watson was kept relatively busy by Latu-Meafou.
The battle between Tactix wing defence Charlotte Elley and Magic’s Whitney Souness continued with the wing attack well and truly dialling it up in the second term with her speed and ball placement into the goalers. A clumsy breaking call from the Tactix shifted the momentum in the game, with the Magic capitalising and scoring back to back goals off their centre pass to sit at 18 goals apiece five minutes into the second. With their tails up the Magic pounced on everything as Tong gobbled up a loose ball down in defence to send the ball screaming back down court but Fakahokotau replied with anything you can do I can do better, taking a huge rebound credit to her impressive balance, footwork and spatial awareness. It was a scrappy couple of minutes with the ball flying out of court the more times than not and Tactix opening up a three goal lead for it only to be cut back down at half time thanks to the desperation and grit of the Tactix unit.
Even at half time the Tactix made a couple of changes with Jess Prosser entering the game at goal attack for the Tactix, pushing Selby-Rickit into goal shooter. The changes worked immediately with Prosser providing a point of difference with her movement in the circle, while Selby-Rickit absorbed the pressure under the post. For the Magic a back twinge to Tong forced a bib swap with Erena Mikaere back into goal keeper while in her 50th game Holly Fowler moved from wing defence into goal defence. It did not stop there with Winders pushed back into wing defence and Ariana Cable-Dixon pulling on the centre bib. It took a while for both sides to settle into their new line-ups and find their connections with the Tactix relatively stagnant and unable to punch through the Magic defence as Mikaere and Fowler worked as a unit to smother the goalers.
Through the midcourt, Elley impressed picking up a crucial loose ball and providing plenty of chances for her side to capitalise while the contest between Winders and Kimiora Poi continued to deliver despite not being directly opposes to each other with the Magic captain throwing everything she had at Poi. The third quarter was marred by a lot of whistle with both sides combining for 28 penalties. The scrappiness continued throughout the quarter with neither team able find any continuity given the host of changes with Samon Nathan entering the game at wing defence for the Tactix and Khiarna Williams closing out the quarter in goal shooter for the Magic. No one could buy a goal in the final minutes of the quarter with five consecutive missed shots sending the ball ping ponging up and down the court. However with changes aplenty it was the Magic that wrestled back the lead to hold a narrow two goal buffer after what was an incredible defensive grind.
The Tactix reverted to their original shooting combination while Winders pulled the centre bib back on and Cable-Dixon moved to wing defence. With 12 minutes to play the game certainly lived up to the hype as the Magic and Tactic went toe-to-toe. Fakahokotau stood up to the pressure creating a timely deflection prompting her side to rally and get back within a goal. Bird started to play with more freedom under the post as Erikana Pedersen delivered long bomb after long bomb into the goal shooter. Up the other end the Magic played with patience, not afraid to work the angles and deliver into McPhee. With the game on a knifes edge Fakahokotau took a crucial intercept as the Tactix went on a three goal run to hit the front. But with less than five left the Magic answered serve to even scores once more. They went goal for goal as the seconds ticked down but neither side could edge ahead.
After starring last night with her improved accuracy and drive to the post Selby-Rickit had a quieter game converting 14 goals from 17 attempts to finish at 82 per cent. Goal shooter Bird also impressed doing a bulk of the shooting with 30 from 36. Up the other end, McPhee stood tall despite the barrage of pressure recording 23 goals for the game at 79 per cent while Latu-Meafou also delivered for the Magic with 23 goals from 27 attempts. Defensively it was hard to go past the efforts of Fakahokotau with the goal keeper amassing seven gains, four deflections and two intercepts while Tong managed two gains, five deflections and one intercept in her half of netball.
GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong