Elias Shadrock has played in a number of netball matches, but none as big as Sunday night's important victory over the Northern Mystics.
Now the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic wing defence will go into the last two ANZ Championship regular season games with that beneficial experience behind her, as she looks to help her team make a fifth straight playoff.
"I know every game means heaps but this game I guess meant the most and it's probably the biggest game I believe I've been a part of," Shadrock said of the tough encounter.
"Definitely the rivalry between Auckland and Waikato is huge and just to win that game was definitely up there and everyone's a happy camp."
This is the third season of trans-Tasman netball for the 21-year-old, after stints in 2009 and 2010 where she only got brief court time. She has sat on the bench in a grand final, but this year Shadrock is becoming more of a force on court and is proving to be a steady operator as the weeks go by.
"I guess when you're in a team that is on that winning streak and has got that momentum and knows how to win, it makes it easier to play well," she said.
The youngster tried not to think too much about the enormity of the local derby heading into it, and was stoked to get the chance to mark one of her idols in Temepara George – who is 15 years her senior.
"I think she's an awesome person," Shadrock said. "And to play up against her is honestly a dream come true."
Shadrock felt Sunday's result could have been different had it been early in the season, but said the Magic have learnt from their opening four losses when to not give the 50-50 passes, particularly in crucial moments.
She added that playing the same combinations week to week had also impacted positively, building confidence and connection among the players.
Saturday's match against the Adelaide Thunderbirds is another huge one, though Shadrock conceded that since the Magic's poor start to the campaign, every game has been huge for them.
That sudden death attitude has not been easy, she said, but it has worked very well for the Magic, who are just one victory away from equalling their record winning streak of eight back in 2009.
"I never realised it was seven wins in a row to be honest," Shadrock said.
"I guess because just one game at a time is our focus regardless of what happens and the outcomes further on. I guess we've just got to focus on that one game, so haven't really thought too much about that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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