Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic claim title
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have completed the fairytale by becoming the first Kiwi team to win the trans-Tasman netball league, beating the Melbourne Vixens in the grand final.
In front of a loud, sell-out crowd of 9400 at Hisense Arena in Melbourne the Magic have stormed back from behind to win the match 41-38 in the dying stages.
After losing their first four matches of the season the Magic have won 12 matches in a row, completing the job in amazing style today.
Leana de Bruin was named player of the grand final.
The visitors looked out of it and trailed right the way through until they hit the lead with five and a half minutes remaining.
The Vixens led at every break and were at one stage up by six in the third quarter.
But late goals from Irene van Dyk put the Magic in front, and that's where they stayed.
Early in the last quarter Magic wing defence Elias Shadrock slapped the ball down with the Vixens hot on attack, with the visitors converting to get back within two.
Moments later they closed to 32-31 on the back of a Leana de Bruin intercept and the crowd began erupting with defence chants.
With eight and a half minutes remaining Casey Williams flew through the air and reeled in an intercept, which the visitors converted to again get back to within one goal.
A missed shot from Tegan Caldwell had the Magic back in possession and van Dyk netted to level the game at 35-35, before Naoupu netted from range to give the Magic the lead with six minutes to play.
Then a de Bruin intercept had the ball to Naoupu again and she drilled it from distance to extend the lead.
The Magic led 38-35 before the Vixens came back and drew level.
Van Dyk shot to put the Magic up 39-38 then Vixens goal shoot Karyn Howarth missed with a minute to go, and van Dyk scored twice to seal the deal.
Earlier, the hosts took an 8-7 lead to quarter time after both teams had a nervous start to the game, with Caldwell missing her first shot, with Magic goal attack Julianna Naoupu doing the same moments later.
Both sides threw away plenty of ball and incredibly there were just three goals in the first six and a half minutes.
The home side took a 7-4 lead but the Magic closed the gap.
Naoupu looked shaky but so did the Vixens shooters, who missed five shots in the first quarter.
A late flurry of goals from the Vixens gave them a 22-18 halftime lead.
The Vixens turned the screws, with the visitors' midcourt put under plenty of pressure.
The hosts hit a four-goal lead though a Casey Williams intercept helped the Magic to get back within one.
Caldwell missed two consecutive shots and the visitors levelled the game at 15-15 through van Dyk.
Another Caldwell miss had the Magic off the hook but then goal Howarth got a hand in the way and helped the hosts win back possession and a two-goal lead.
De Bruin performed well in picking up four rebounds in the second quarter, but a late burst from the hosts got them into a good position.
Both teams' shooting was suspect, but the Vixens put up 20 shots in the second quarter, netting 14, compared with the Magic's 11/13.
At halftime the hosts had shot 22 from 33 and the visitors 18 from 22, with van Dyk 10 from 10.
The Magic had turned the ball over 11 times to the Vixens' seven.
In the third quarter an early two goals got them ahead by six, then at 27-22 the Magic called a timeout to look to regain some poise.
Magic defenders Williams and de Bruin kept picking up rebounds but the visitors' struggled with their execution downcourt, with the Vixens continually able to put up more shots.
At 29-23 the match looked to be slipping away from the Magic, but they closed to 29-25 then Vixens wing attack Madison Browne threw a bad pass and allowed the visitors another goal, before the hosts called a timeout with two and a half minutes remaining in the quarter, making a positional switch with Browne and centre Chelsey Tregear.
Magic wing attack Khao Watts stepped up a gear in the third quarter, feeding well, and the Magic closed to within two, before the Vixens scored again and Laura Langman was called for held ball with 10 seconds remaining in the period.