They went to war and won the battle - that was the call from ANZ Netball Championship winners Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic as they touched down in Auckland yesterday afternoon.
And they make no apologies for "winning ugly" because they got the job done in a game two of the most senior Magic players rated as their "toughest ever".
"Hands down," said a beaming Irene van Dyk.
"It was brutal out there - the toughest game of the season - and I'd probably go so far as saying it was the toughest game of my career."
Her sentiments were echoed by goal defender Leana de Bruin, whose sterling defensive effort earned her the player-of-the-match gong.
"It was a tough battle but we expected nothing less and at the end of the day we came out on top," de Bruin said.
Emotional franchise chief executive Sheryl Dawson thanked the fans for meeting the team at the Auckland International Airport arrivals hall.
"To see these people here cheering for the girls who have worked so hard - I've never had this before in my life and it is just so special," she cried.
"We want to thank the fans not only from our region but the entire country for their support and wishes leading into last night's game - it's been incredible.”
This morning Dawson will be working on the final plans for two civic receptions that will held in Hamilton and Tauranga on Thursday. "We plan to hold events in both cities and we will make those plans public as soon as possible."
Which will be an important end to a rollercoaster season, according to Magic captain Laura Langman, who yesterday acknowledged the support of the massive army of fans.
"You have no idea how much this win means to the team but it also means a lot to so many more people for a variety of reasons," Langman said.
"It's not only great for us, it's great for New Zealand netball and for women's sport - so we are very proud," she said.
Also proud were the parents of Jessie Waitapu who were part of a large contingent of Magic fans who travelled to Melbourne for the final.
Waitapu's father, Barry Taane, said the atmosphere was electric.
"There was such a big crew making so much noise, there were only three or four hundred of us but it felt like three or four thousand - you had to be there to experience it, it is something I will never forget," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Were the Chiefs robbed at the New Zealand rugby awards?Related story: (See story)