The Canterbury Tactix have fallen back to the foot of the trans-Tasman netball table after a frustrating but close loss to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
While many pundits will be applauding the Tactix for pushing the Magic as well as they did in their 61-52 loss, the Tactix themselves will be ruing costly and untimely errors and an appalling second quarter.
The nine-goal margin looks comfortable enough but the scoreline was stretched out by a late run from the home side once the Tactix were out of the contest.
They genuinely believed they could heap more pressure on the Magic, who had lost their first four games, and throughout the second half had every chance.
But winning the second quarter by seven proved to be the difference for the Magic, who recorded their ninth straight win over the Tactix.
The Magic and Tactix are now tied on two ANZ Championship points but the Magic finally move off the bottom of the table courtesy of their goal difference.
The Tactix started strongly and kept pace with their more fancied hosts throughout the first spell.
The turnovers they did give up were quickly regathered as both Anna Galvan and Bessie Manu picked up vital ball. Jo Harten did the bulk of the shooting work and impressed against the Magic's experienced defensive duo of Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin.
The Tactix' plan of playing goal attack Anna Thompson more as a feeder than a shooter worked, as Harten was able to find space under the goal and evade the long limbs of the Magic's defence.
Williams was clearly desperate for a win as she resorted to using every tactic in her arsenal. The Silver Ferns captain was in a stroppy mood throughout and was twice called for intimidation but was largely kept quiet by Harten.
The second quarter was all Magic as the Tactix continued to show they are woeful in that stanza for some reason.
In the five they've played so far the Tactix have been outscored a humbling 75-46 as their original intensity wanes.
The Magic put more effort into their defence of Harten in the second quarter and forced her to put up tougher shots.
The other option was to use Thompson but she has the shooting yips and missed all four of her second-quarter shots including an air-ball from right below the hoop.
She was also called for held-ball.
While her shooting was sub-standard, Thompson's feeding was slick and it was presumably that which kept her on the court.
As bad as the second quarter was, the third quarter was brilliant for the red-and-blacks.
They outscored the Magic 17-12 and doubts clearly started to creep in for the none-from-four home side. A fifth loss would have all but ended their hopes and they played the third period like a side that had those thoughts in the back of their minds.
The Magic made plenty of mistakes but they were forced into them by a dogged Tactix side in search of their second win of the campaign.
The Magic were able to keep their visitors at bay in the fourth quarter however and roamed away with the win in the final minutes.
Irene van Dyk shot 100 per cent, Julianna Naoupu was much improved, de Bruin was impressive and the Magic forced constant turnovers in the final spell.
Maree Bowden, Jo Harten and Anna Galvan were again the best for a Tactix side that was good enough in spells but lacked the consistency to win.
Things don't get easier for the Tactix. Skipper Bowden appeared to be troubled by her right ankle and next Monday her side host the unbeaten Melbourne Vixens.
- © Fairfax NZ News