Vixens or Mystics for final? It's anyone's guess
A HREF="HTTP://TINYURL.COM/HAMISH-BIDWELL">HAMISH BIDWELL
The Magic look like finalists, but it's not so clear who they will face. Hamish Bidwell reports.
And then there were four.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic seem certain to make it to the last two, with victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the trans-Tasman netball league minor semifinal on Monday. But the major semi, between the Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics the day before, is a hard one to pick.
The Magic's run to the playoffs has been irresistible. From the night they achieved their first win of the season, against the Canterbury Tactix in Rotorua, the Magic haven't really looked like losing. Nine wins in a row they've reeled off since then, including a 59-42 thrashing of the Thunderbirds on June 23.
After losing their first four matches, the Magic's season reached the sudden-death stage a long time before anyone else's. Coach Noeline Taurua has said that's been a real benefit to the team, aside from the fact that the early defeats meant everyone in the squad had to get unusually honest with each other.
The Thunderbirds' run to the finals has been much less emphatic and they seem destined to be the team who find they've played their last match of the season. That would leave the Magic to play the loser of Sunday's clash at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.
The result of this season's previous Vixens-Mystics match was completely upstaged by the debut outing of the "Harrison Hoist."
Mystics goal keep Anna Harrison was the talk of the league, after a helping hand from team-mate Jess Moulds enabled her to block a couple of Vixens' shots. But the most important aspect of that match, was the fact the Mystics won 49-45.
The Vixens were in good form at the time, including being able to close out one-goal home wins over the Magic and Queensland Firebirds. That the Mystics were able travel to Melbourne and beat them, must be a huge confidence boost ahead of this game.
The Mystics have built their campaign around succeeding at this stage of the season. Coach Debbie Fuller has continually tinkered with her lineup, in the belief that she needs her entire squad of 12 to be able to stepup and perform at playoff time. A year ago the Mystics beat the NSW Swifts in the minor semi, before defeating the Magic 43-42 in the preliminary final. That took its toll come the decider, where the Firebirds won 57-44.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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