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Losses add extra edge to Sting v Magic clash

Losses add extra edge to Sting v Magic clash

Qualifying in second spot has given the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic supported by Sleepyhead a new lease of life, coach Noeline Taurua said ahead of Friday’s first National Bank Cup netball semifinal in Invercargill.

Buoyed by the prospect of the two-life system for the two top qualifiers, the Magic headed south confident of resurrecting their season and starting with a clean slate against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Sting in the first of the playoffs. With both teams coming off last round losses, the match is poised to be tight and highlighted by the prospect of some tantalising individual match-ups. Both teams are brimming with talent and have a place in the final at stake.

The loser gets a second chance, playing the winner of Sunday’s second semifinal between the Fujifilm Force and the Ballantynes Canterbury Flames on June 23 to find the other finalist.

The Magic have struggled to play to their potential this year but Taurua believes she has identified areas that need a slight tweaking as she searches for the elusive formula that will ignite the obvious talent in the team.

The Magic have effectively gone into camp for the match, taking three days to get to Invercargill with trainings interspersed at various stopovers on the way.

``We have no fear going down there (Invercargill),’’ Taurua said. ``There’s more positives for us and if anything we play better away from home. At the moment we need team unity and hopefully it will pull us together even tighter.’’

There will be a change of tactics for the match and probably personnel as the Magic look for more control.

``It's all about the timing, we've been trying to rush everything too much,’ ’ Taurua said. ``We still haven't worked out where we sit this year and once we get a sniff of that we will be away. Having two shooters available, controlling our own possession and tight defence will win this game.''

Taurua said ball retention, rotation of the circle and high shooting percentages were the Sting’s major strengths.

Coach Robyn Broughton was disappointed with the Sting’s form when losing to the Flames last week and is looking for a big lift across the board.

``I wasn’t pleased at all, we should have won it and we’re better than that, ’’ she said. ``But that’s history now. All the players need to lift their game, make sure they are on target, know where they are and use the skill that they’ve got properly. We made uncharacteristic mistakes last week. It was a dull performance and the player’s had no fizz.’’

Going on last week’s form, Fujifilm Force and Ballantynes Canterbury Flames will be looking for more of the same after upset wins against the Magic and Sting respectively, in their sudden death semifinal on the North Shore.

The Flames are also quite happy to be playing away from home and historically have been the Force’s bogey team.

Experienced co-captain Julie Seymour said mentally it was important the Flames had a fresh approach for the Force.

``Last week’s match gave us the belief but you’ve got to be careful that you don’t just expect things are going to happen. We have enjoyed the moment but now it’s a clean slate again and if we don’t win this week it’s all over, so the right focus is important,’’ she said.

The Flames had great success against the Sting driving the ball through the middle but Seymour highlighted the Force’s strong team defence which would go all out to nullify this aspect.

``Their forte is the zone defence and it goes right through the court so we will have to change our tactics a little bit,’’ Seymour said, ``but you don’ t want to change too much because you want to be able to play your own game. We’re quietly confident and back ourselves to have a real go at this.’’

Force coach Yvonne Willering is happy her team has finally hit their straps and the emphasis is not just on maintaining last week’s high performance level but improving on it.

Willering was surprised by the Flames upset result but couldn’t deny the quality effort.

``We will need to be wary. Come this weekend, your past results count for nothing but it’s another opportunity for us to show where we are at,’’ she said. ``I am confident. We know we are at the business end and we have now actually shown what we are capable of so it’s a matter of taking another step up from that.’’

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