Magic focus on final challenge - and trophy
Aaron Goile reports on the team's preparations, schedule and attitude.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have quickly turned their attentions to combating fatigue ahead of this weekend's trans-Tasman netball league grand final.
After taking out an epic preliminary final against the Northern Mystics in Auckland on Monday night, the Magic must now contend with a short turnaround to Sunday afternoon's decider, the travel factor and the fact they were out on court an additional 14 minutes because of extra time.
All those factors weigh against their toppling the Melbourne Vixens, but such is the huge belief in the team after their 11 successive wins, you wouldn't go anywhere near writing them off.
The Magic will head to the Victorian capital on Saturday afternoon, arriving just 21 hours before centre pass in the grand final. They will go over with all their preparation done at home beforehand and jet in looking to do the job and fly back with the ANZ Championship trophy on Monday morning.
Magic coach Noeline Taurua said her team would again be taking the week lightly, with no need to overdo their preparation.
"We've got all our training diaries completed so we know the numbers regarding our fatigue levels and that, leading into this week," she said.
"In the past what we've done is that we've run really hard, we've trained really hard leading into the finals, and maybe we have to come from a different angle. But the good thing is we do a lot of repetitious training so from the last two weeks we've been able to peg off and taper down anyway."
Taurua was confident her side would have the legs to run down the Mystics in extra time on Monday and once they fought back to take the game past the hour-mark, she knew they had done enough.
"To be honest when we went into extra time I knew we had it, because I knew we had the ability to run their feet off," Taurua said.
"They haven't been able to stick with their starting seven, they haven't been tried and true for four quarters, let alone extra time," she said of the Mystics.
"I knew we had the ability. One thing is fitness that we pride ourselves in, and being able to work hard."
Magic captain Laura Langman said her coach was a "huge inspirer" to get the team over the line and into their third grand final.
"I think when we went back out after a timeout you could see in each other's eyes that we knew what we had to do," Langman said. "So [Taurua] certainly reiterated the gameplan, gave people their roles, and to their credit the girls stepped up."
Langman said that while her side were on the court they didn't focus on what was going wrong, or the score, but just what the job is at hand, and that helped them fight back to keep their amazing season alive.
"Our whole motto is if we're better than the week before, we're happy campers," Langman said.
"That was certainly a step up in that overtime so we'll take the good from that game and ensure we get in situations where we can replicate that again for next week."
Of the quick turnaround going into the grand final, Langman said the Magic would be well placed with several seasoned campaigners in their ranks to help the younger players do everything they can to make sure they go into Sunday in the best shape possible, to try to be the first visiting side to win a title.
"I think the history speaks for itself. Usually that team that has that week off, they're fresher, they're fighting and they want it more," Langman said.
"I think in terms of us, we've been in this situation so many times - don't remind me - we've got to be really smart about what we do and we've got to still have that passion there when we get to Melbourne - so game on."