Waikato-BOP Magic make short work of Swifts

LOCKED IN: Most franchises deal on year-to-year contracts, meaning stars like Laura Langman are free to look elsewhere after each season.
LOCKED IN: Most franchises deal on year-to-year contracts, meaning stars like Laura Langman are free to look elsewhere after each season.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have put on an Easter treat and continued their long winning run with a clinical 61-35 outclassing of the New South Wales Swifts in the trans-Tasman netball competition.

The match at ASB Arena in Mt Maunganui was set to be a real tester for the Magic, with the Swifts having impressed in their first outing of the season and having a 6-2 win-loss record over the Magic.

However the home side took control from the outset and racked up their 14th straight win, dating back to round five of last year.

Captain Laura Langman was brilliant in all areas of the court, with her 19 assists and three intercepts testimony to that.

Casey Kopua hit top form, with her five intercepts being a key to sending the ball up court to Irene van Dyk, who was her usual self and sunk 31 from 32 attempts.

But it was the early support she got which paved the way to the huge win.

Coach Noeline Taurua fielded the new wing attack/goal attack combination of Jess Tuki and Jessie Waitapu and it fired early on.

The hosts put on a dominating display in the first quarter, firing on all cylinders as they moved the ball through court with pace and precision and forced the Swifts into numerous errors.

Van Dyk went 11/11 while Waitapu sunk 7/9 to give the Magic a massive 18-5 lead at quarter time.

At the break Swifts coach Lisa Beehag rung the changes as she attempted to stem the flow.

She benched goal attack Amorette Wild and goal keep April Letton, while key defenders Sonia Mkoloma and Mo'onia Gerrard were moved back a place on court to try and combat the Magic shooters.

It worked to a point, but while van Dyk was limited to five shots for the quarter, Waitapu was outstanding, running onto the ball with purpose and sinking 10/11.

The Swifts found more efficiency on attack and a run of three goals at the end of the period saw them lose the quarter by just one, and go into halftime down 32-18.

Despite Waitapu's brilliance, Taurua opted to introduce Ellen Halpenny (13/18) for the third quarter, along with Khao Watts at wing attack, sticking to the same plan as in the first game where she gave those players half a game.

There was no danger of the Magic losing their momentum though, as they came out of the changing rooms and again hit the ground running.

They scored six straight goals early in the third stanza to go out to a 39-19 advantage.

To their credit the Swifts kept fighting and sunk five in a row of their own to claw the margin back to 15.

However, the Magic stuck to their guns and took a 45-27 lead to three-quarter time.

Seventeen-year-old Jamie-Lee Price, playing in front of father Steve - the former Warriors, Queensland and Australia rugby league player - was introduced for her debut in the last quarter and played alongside some players she has idolised in her younger years.

Key Swifts shooter Susan Pratley was restricted to 23/29 as she was switched between the two shooting positions, and was never allowed to settle.

Magic 61 (18-14-13-16) Swifts 35 (5-13-9-8)

Fairfax Media