Who will win the all-Kiwi netball semi-final between the Northern Mystics and Waikato-BOP Magic.
After a number of shaking heads, scowling faces and verbal barrages at Australian umpire Rachael Ayre on Monday night, the Magic netballers will be putting in plenty more work this week to combat being caught out again.
In their minor semifinal win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds the Waikato-Bay of Plenty side were stung by the shrill of Ayre's whistle and at times left fuming by her decisions.
Interestingly, the Thunderbirds were the more penalised side in that match, blown up 90 times to the Magic's 62, but it was the hosts who were more bemused when it came to the interpretations.Finals matches are being controlled by an umpire from each side of the Tasman and it has traditionally been hard for players to adapt their games to suit.
Magic coach Noeline Taurua will make sure some extra preparation goes into that area leading into next Monday's preliminary final against the Northern Mystics in Auckland. That is to make sure her players aren't "caught on the body" of their opponents in the half where the Australian umpire will operate.
"We've got to do more stuff off the ball so that she can see, very clearly, our spaces," she said. "There's a lot of things that we're going to learn from here in regards to incorporating the umpires into our planning."
Taurua said the gripping playoff encounter was a good reminder for her side that they need to keep grounded and pay attention to detail in their preparations. But she has "utter belief" that her side can go all the way in the ANZ Championship for the first time.
"Even when we were in round five, and that's probably the thing that's been there right along," she said of the confidence within the group. "We get challenged, whether it's through each other, or through the media, or through the opposition, and I think that's probably, for me, how we can keep tight as a team."
After stringing some fine performances together, now it is all about "executing under pressure" for the Magic.
Taurua said her side are at their best when they play their clinical style and attack the ball defensively and that was what she communicated to them when they trailed at halftime on Monday.
"We also spoke about that if we were going to lose it we always wanted to come from a place of strength. Which is not being a victim to the umpires or the opposition, that we go out there and play ... it paid off right at the end.
"We dug deep. And it wasn't until that last two minutes with Elias [Shadrock] getting those two critical balls that turned the game around and we were able to execute down the other end."
- © Fairfax NZ News