The finals are definitely in sight of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic after a brilliant victory over the Northern Mystics in Auckland tonight.
In an enthralling contest in front of a sold out crowd of more than 4000 at Trusts Stadium, the Magic won 48-46 in a superb game of netball between New Zealand's two heavyweights.
The Magic made it seven wins in a row and now sit fourth on the table, tied with the New South Wales Swifts, but ahead on goal percentage.
Those two sides are two points behind the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens and Mystics who are tied at the top on 16 points but sit in that order on goal percentage.
The Magic held the lead for the majority of the match tonight, but the Mystics kept coming back.
Both goal shoots Irene van Dyk and Cathrine Latu were accurate, while the goal attacks Julianna Naoupu and Maria Tutaia had their moments.
The hosts managed a two-goal lead early, but the Magic got on a three-goal run to hit the front for the first time.
The visitors extended their lead to 15-11 by quarter time, capitalising on a bad pass from Mystics captain Temepara George, who hurled the ball into the goal post and out of court.
Latu, the competition's most accurate shooter, was restricted to just two shots in the opening stanza.
The Magic built their advantage to 17-11, but before long the hosts were back to within three, when van Dyk lost the ball, then had it plucked from in front of her by Kayla Cullen.
Both teams were guilty of coughing up possession, with George hurling a woeful pass over Latu's head to allow the Magic the initiative again.
At 22-17 the Mystics called a timeout and changed things up, bringing wing defence Charlotte Kight off.
Cullen moved to wing defence, Anna Harrison to goal defence, and Jessica Moulds entered the fray at goal keep.
Immediately the Mystics narrowed the margin to three, but thanks to some brilliant work from Leana de Bruin, who re-gathered a goal-bound ball just after it left Latu's hands, they were again in control.
Van Dyk netted on the break to make it 27-22 at halftime, though the goal was controversial, with time having been up and the bench officials not able to get the attention of the umpires.
At halftime the Mystics benched centre Jade Clarke, moving George there and bringing Grace Rasmussen on at wing attack.
They started the third quarter in fine form and again narrowed the deficit to one, but the visitors roared back, and van Dyk produced a fantastic lay-up which had the Magic's bench in raptures.
When the Mystics were penalised for breaking with 90 seconds left in the quarter, van Dyk netted three more times to give her side a 41-35 buffer going into the last period.
It took a minute and 45 seconds for the first goal of the last quarter and it came from van Dyk after Latu threw a bad pass out of court.
Naoupu netted shortly after to open up an eight-goal margin, but then things changed dramatically.
A held ball from Laura Langman had the Mystics claw two goals back, before two turnovers suddenly had the hosts back in it at 43-41.
Anna Harrison then stole the ball but replayed it and the Magic were off the hook momentarily.
The Mystics kept up the pressure right till the end, and even brought out the Harrison Hoist, but to no effect.
They got to within two with 30 seconds left but the Magic clung on.
Magic 48 (15-12-14-7)
Mystics 46 (11-11-13-11)
- Fairfax Media
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