Tactix trounced in season opener by the Magic

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 18:17 01/03/2014
Jo Harten
IAIN MCGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ
ON TOP: Jo Harten grabs the rebound from the grasp of Tactix defender Jessica Moulds.

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Jo Harten enjoyed a dream debut for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic as they flogged her former team, the Tactix, 70-46 in the trans-Tasman netball league's opener.

The English shooter had played two seasons for the Tactix and was clearly pumped for today's match in Christchurch.

Harten had an excellent first showing in Magic colours, landing 41 of her 42 attempts and posing constant problems for the Tactix defensive unit.

She teamed up beautifully in the shooting circle with another ex-Tactix player, Ellen Halpenny, who was also impressive, converting 29 of her 32 goals.

The Tactix coaching staff would have been disappointed with their through-court defensive pressure with the Magic able to fire the ball through to their attacking end with relative ease.

It was the perfect start for the Magic's new Australian coach, Julie Fitzgerald, and their revamped roster, which lost Silver Ferns Irene van Dyk and Laura Langman in the off-season.

Fitzgerald would have been thrilled with midcourters Grace Rasmussen and Courtney Tairi, who were too slick for the Tactix defence for much of the afternoon and worked tirelessly feeding the ball into their shooting end.

The Magic's star Silver Fern defensive combination of Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin both had strong outings, with Kopua snaffling an amazing 13 deflections  and five intercepts.

It was the worst possible way for perennial strugglers the Tactix to begin the season - losing by 24 goals on their home court.

Tactix new Malawian import Mwai Kumwenda was a bright spot for the team in the loss, shooting 29 goals from 30 attempts, but the side was unable to get the ball into her enough.

The Tactix spoke about the need to come out firing from the opening whistle and made a positive beginng to the game, jumping out to an early 10-8 advantage. Kumwenda was prominent early, holding her own against Kopua and de Bruin, landing six goals to ease her first game nerves.

The Magic produced a strong finish to the first period, finishing with a 10-2 run to jump out to a 19-12 first quarter advantage.

They were able to apply plenty of pressure through the court, forcing the Tactix into silly turnovers.

Magic fed off that momentum and put the foot down in the second quarter to build a deserved 14-goal halftime advantage, which was always going to be too hefty deficit for the Tactix to pull back.

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Frustrated Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs mixed around her combinations in the second quarter in a desperate attempt to energise her side, but the Magic were always in the driver's seat.

Things went from bad to worse for the Tactix in the third quarter with the Magic's lead blowing out to 20 goals by late in the quarter.

Fitzgerald was able to go to her bench in the second half handing court-time to youngsters Jamie-Lee Price and Samantha Sinclair.

Gibbs sprung some surprises to begin the game with usual wing attack Anna Thompson starting in the centre bib for the first time in a trans-Tasman league game. Alongside her were Keshia Grant and Jade Clarke.

Off-season recruit Jessica Moulds was favoured in the defensive end with Zoe Walker, forcing New Zealand accelerant squad member Jane Watson to the bench.

Gibbs went with Julianna Naoupu, who has had an awful run with knee problems in recent years, at goal attack, partnering Kumwenda.

The Magic face a local derby in their next game against the Mystics in Auckland, while the Tactix have lots to worry about ahead of their clash with title favourite, the Swifts, in Christchurch next Sunday.

SCORECARD

Magic 70

Tactix 46

Quarter scores: 19-12, 37-23, 55-33, 70-46

SHOOTING STATS

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic

Jo Harten: 41/42

Ellen Halpenny: 29/32

Tactix

Mwai Kumwenda: 29/30

Julianna Naoupu: 5/7

Sophia Fenwick: 12/20

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