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Magic head for final after toppling Sting

Magic head for final after toppling Sting

Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic supported by Sleepyhead earned a week off and took a big step towards defending their National Bank Cup netball title with a convincing win in the first semifinal in Invercargill tonight.

The Magic put the disappointment of two losses behind them as they dismantled the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Sting on the way to a 61-51 win and as a result gained a direct passage to the final to be held at Mystery Creek, in Hamilton on June 30.

It took just eight minutes before the Magic broke the deadlock as the teams initially ran goal for goal.

Reverting Laura Langman to wing defence and introducing the experienced Kiri Adams to wing attack for the first time this season played dividends for the Magic, who had by far their best outing of the season. Ball control led to precision play on attack which was well marshalled by the experience Amigene Metcalfe and smothering defence throughout had the Sting battling.

After two quiet weeks, the smile on Magic shooter Irene van Dyk’s face said it all. Working in perfect unison with her shooting partner Tanya Lund, who did her load of shooting duties as well as an excellent job of drawing the defence, it was business as usual for van Dyk, who revelled in the extra space to convert 43 from 44 attempts at goal.

Seven goals ahead at the first break, the Magic had stamped their mark on the match, forcing the Sting to make changes much earlier than intended.

The Sting, with a full house behind them at Stadium Southland, could do nothing to stem the Magic’s midcourt flow and on attack were forced to use all their options.

Casey Williams, the Magic’s last line of defence, was the individual standout performer, and in tandem with Joline Henry, cut down the Sting’s shooting options, usually a major strength of the southern team.

Sting coach Robyn Broughton rotated Tania Dalton, Belinda Colling and Natalie Avellino throughout the match looking for the elusive breakthrough but to little avail.

Storming second and third quarters had the Magic 15 goals ahead, the game effectively over with 15 minutes to play. A late rally by the Sting, who threw everything into the last quarter to win the segment, proved too little too late.

``You could say, the losses have been character-building for us,’’ Magic coach Noeline Taurua said. ``We still had our ups and downs but where we’ve come from what we put out on court tonight was great.’’

Taurua praised the efforts of veteran co-captain Metcalfe, who played centre tonight, saying she linked the attacks and defence and her leadership stood out as she directed play.

As top qualifiers, the Sting get another chance for a shot at the final next Friday night when they host the winner of Sunday’s Fujifilm Force vs Ballantynes Canterbury Flames semifinal.

But it will be back to the drawing board after being well beaten tonight.

Broughton said her team lost a lot of ball on attack which had cost them dearly.

``We needed to tidy it up and get that ball in (to the circle) cleanly. But the Magic outplayed us tonight. We’re just going to have to fix up our attack, experienced players can’t afford to throw away that amount of ball,’’ she said.


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