The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have kept their trans-Tasman netball league playoff hopes alive with a brilliant comeback win over the Central Pulse in Mt Maunganui.
The 52-42 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 3000 at TECT Arena eliminated the Pulse from finals contention and extended the Magic's winning run to six matches.
It was a gutsy display by the hosts, made to work hard early on by a determined Pulse outfit.
But once they got momentum their way, the Magic cantered home, and for their efforts, have jumped up a place to fifth on the table.
The Magic face a big test on Sunday night, away to the Northern Mystics in Auckland, before hosting the Adelaide Thunderbirds (Mt Maunganui) and Queensland Firebirds (Hamilton).
The home team took a 12-11 lead to quarter time after starting the better of the two sides.
Pulse goal attack Paula Griffin felt the pressure of Casey Williams and looked rattled, penalised for held ball on the first attempt of the match, then throwing a bad pass and missing another shot.
The second time the visitors got to the circle they turned the ball over and their third time in possession had the ball thrown over the sideline, as the Magic went up 4-0.
But the Pulse fought back and went on a four-goal run.
They then came out and blew the Magic off the court in the second quarter.
The home side were loose with the ball and the Pulse took a 14-12 lead.
With more defensive pressure on them, the Magic found the going tough getting the ball to their shooters.
Pulse captain Katrina Grant provided some inspiration from the back, racking up four intercepts in the second quarter.
One of those was swiftly converted by goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites to make it 19-16, and seconds later she scored again to put the visitors right on top.
A time out called by Magic wing attack Khao Watts saw her get attention to her historically troubled left knee, but the break was really for Magic coach Noeline Taurua to lay down the law.
The stoppage didn't work though, and the Pulse kept adding to their lead, blowing it out to 23-17, before the Magic halved the deficit by halftime.
A Williams intercept had van Dyk tying the game up at 25-25, then the Pulse took a two-goal lead before a Griffin miss handed the initiative back to the Magic.
Her confidence looked shattered and Thwaites missed the follow up shot, with the Magic seizing on the ball and playing themselves to a three-goal advantage, before Grant called time to try and halt the momentum.
After the stoppage the Magic surged on and went into the final quarter up 38-33, having won the third stanza 17-9.
A brilliant piece of skill from Watts and wing defence Elias Shadrock early in the last quarter kept the ball in play and set the Magic up to extend their lead to double figures.
A great long ball from Williams to van Dyk brought up the 50, and van Dyk finished the match with a superb 34 from 35 attempts.
- © Fairfax NZ News