Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit puts up a shot against the Magic in Hamilton on Sunday.
The Mainland Tactix have made it four straight ANZ Premiership victories, keeping alive their hopes of a first final appearance in team history.
They held off a stern challenge from the bottom placed Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, prevailing 44-35 at Hamilton’s Claudelands Arena on Sunday.
The Magic recovered from a poor first quarter, belying their bottom of the table status and pushed the high-flying Tactix most of the game. A strong defensive effort in the final term, where they limited the Magic to just three goals, scoring 10 themselves, swung the result the Tactix way.
With the unbeaten Central Pulse all but assured of a place in the one versus two final on August 23, the Tactix and Northern Mystics are in a head-to-head battle for the other spot.
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Next Sunday’s clash between the Tactix and Mystics in Auckland will likely determine who advances to the decider.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s leading sports sides can’t take a trick. The Magic have lost eight games and drawn two others since the competition resumed after the Covid-19 enforced break. In Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Chiefs have been bitterly disappointing, losing all eight of their games.
It has been 139 days since the Magic last tasted a win, beating the Steel in the opening round on March 16 before the premiership was postponed.
Trailing 25-20 at halftime, the Magic produced some of their best netball of the season in the third quarter, clawing their way back into the contest.
They increased their defensive intensity, forcing the Tactix into mistakes on attack. The Magic were able to get the ball down to their shooters regularly with Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou capitalising from the turnover ball.
The Magic were back playing in front of their home fans with all teams playing at the centralised Auckland Netball Centre over the past six rounds, following the resumption of the competition.
Fresh off a pleasing win over the Stars in Christchurch on Thursday, the Tactix began strongly, opening up a 15-10 lead after the first quarter.
They were perfect in the shooting end through Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit, who converted all 15 first quarter attempts, benefiting from accurate feeding from Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi.
Bird picked up right where she left off against the Stars, landing 37 from 37 in that game, slotting all nine first quarter attempts.
She finished with 26 from 30 against the Magic. Silver Ferns goal attack Selby-Rickit was outstanding for the second game in a row, landing 16/18 for the Tactix and getting through a power of work.
Things got worse for the Magic to open the second term with the Tactix starting with a 7-3 burst to increase their advantage to 22-13.
The Magic fought back leading into halftime, scoring four unanswered goals, to go into the main break with confidence, down by five (25-20).
It was a strong third quarter from the Magic, but a sloppy final 12 minutes, where they netted just three goals and turned the ball over 10 times, cost them dearly.
The Magic back up against the Steel at Claudelands on Monday night in a clash of the premiership’s bottom two sides.
AT A GLANCE:
Tactix 44 (Ellie Bird: 26/30, Te Paea Selby-Rickit: 16/18, Jess Prosser: 2/2) Magic 35 (Kelsey McPhee: 17/22, Abigail Latu-Meafou: 18/22) 1Q: 15-10, HT: 25-20, 3Q: 34-32.