New shooting combo to stay for Wai-BOP Magic

CHANGING THINGS UP: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald.
CHANGING THINGS UP: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald.

Expect to see more of the revised shooting combination the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic employed in their win over the Tactix on Monday.

At halftime, coach Julie Fitzgerald made the bold move to swap Jo Harten and Ellen Halpenny around, as she eyed something different ahead of the playoffs.

It was a move that worked well, with Harten showing her athleticism at goal attack and an ability to shoot from range, while Halpenny was a steady force closer to the hoop at goal shoot.

During their recent dip in form, the Magic put the combination out at training, but it was only practised on a couple of occasions, so Halpenny admitted to being pretty anxious about bringing it out on game night.

"I've played a lot at goal shoot in ANZ in playing for the Tactix [from 2008 to 2012] so you could say I felt at home, but I was very, very nervous," she said.

"When you're going into the unknown, of course it's going to be a little bit nerve-racking. Nerves are never are bad thing [though]."

Halpenny's first foray into the GA bib was actually in 2012 when she played alongside Harten.

Now the pair are set to be versatile so that Fitzgerald can change the dynamic when she sees fit.

"It definitely brings another X factor to our team," Halpenny said, noting that would be a key for the finals.

"Teams have had [more than] 10 games to analyse you so you need to bring something different to the party because that's when the real intensity comes up."

Halpenny liked the thought of the duo being moving shooters who "definitely can still offer the hold". While she is only 3cm shorter than the 1.88m Harten, Halpenny said her team-mate and flatmate's extra height and long arms were an asset at goal attack.

"She's a lot taller than everyone, so she can definitely see over the nest. Her vision is amazing, I've never seen someone with such good vision. She's a very big unit to see coming through court. And, when she wants the ball, she'll let you know."

Meanwhile, Halpenny acknowledged that Monday's win was good to be able to show the Magic are still a force, and that it was about "rekindling the fun of netball" after a few tough weeks.

"Everybody loves a win. I think it makes the week a little bit easier," she said.

With some pressure off their shoulders, the Magic will need to hit peak form if they are to topple fellow joint ladder leaders the NSW Swifts in Sydney on Sunday.

Halpenny felt that keeping the ball speed up would be crucial, as well as moving it intelligently.

"I think the Swifts, defensively, are a very good team, with Sonia [Mkoloma] and [Sharni] Layton. So for me and Jo, it will be just making sure that we're smart with what we're doing and we're looking after each other, and the middies are giving us the ball to turn and shoot."

Waikato Times