Thumped Tactix net wooden spoon hat-trick

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2012
Maree Bowden
Fairfax NZ
Maree Bowden

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If the saying you're only as good as your last game is true, the Tactix should already be counting down to the start of the next season.

Their 65-41 thumping at the hands of a playoff-bound Adelaide Thunderbirds side was one of the Tactix' worst outings of the season and hardly the right sendoff for retiring stalwarts Anna Galvan and Maree Bowden.

Any chance of a dream win as a parting gift for the pair was blown in the first quarter when the Thunderbirds scored the final eight goals to be up 16-6 at the first break.

They extended that lead to 18 by halftime and although the Tactix rallied much better in the second half, the game was well out of reach by then.

The Tactix have pushed good sides all season – six of their losses have been by less than 10 – but yesterday they looked the last-placed side that they are.

The 21-goal thumping locks in the wooden spoon for a third straight year. The Thunderbirds moved the ball slickly through court with zip, vision and precision whereas the Tactix stumbled their way down, making errors semi-professional netballers shouldn't be making.

Four times in the first quarter they gave away possession for stepping or offside.

The Thunderbirds were always going to be good yesterday. Coming off an embarrassing 17-goal loss to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic a week ago meant a loss to the Tactix could see them miss out on the playoffs and end the 2010 champion's hopes of becoming the first team to win multiple ANZ Championships.

Sharni Layton was her usual bullish and brilliant self while the midcourt linked superbly with shooters Erin Bell and Carla Borrego.

Borrego's height meant if the Tactix defence had shut down other options, the Thunderbirds' feeders were still able just to lob in high balls to the 1.93m Jamaican.

The Tactix were much better in the second half, on both attack and defence, but that should be just as frustrating for the side and management as pleasing.

Consistency has been their Achilles heel all season; one quarter they look like they can match anyone, the next they struggle. It was hardly surprising that Bowden was one of the Tactix's best – as she has been all season – while Jo Harten shot well and performed admirably under the pressure of Layton.

While yesterday's loss was disappointing, the Tactix won two games this season, and that's better than both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

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Meanwhile, the Mystics sealed second place and a major semifinal match away against Melbourne on Sunday with their nailbiting 50-49 victory against the New South Wales Swifts in Auckland last night.

The Mystics needed to show courage and character to come back from trailing by four goals at three-quarter to eliminate the Swifts from playoff contention. The other semifinalist will be found tonight when the Magic host the Firebirds.

- Canterbury

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