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Back-to-back titles for Magic

Back-to-back titles for Magic

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic supported by Sleepyhead created a little slice of history when they powered to a second straight National Bank Cup netball title at Mystery Creek, in Hamilton tonight.

In the first final to be held in the North Island, the youthful Magic ended the aspirations of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Sting’s seasoned campaigners with a comprehensive 67-43 win.

In front of a record National Bank Cup crowd of 5000, the Magic enjoyed the special moment of back-to-back titles in front of their home fans after missing out on the right to host last year’s final.

After a relatively even first half, the Magic exploded into life in the second half to outscore the Sting by more than two goals to one when they raced away with the half 35-16.

The Magic stood out as the better team through all areas of the court with the last line of defence, Casey Williams being the individual standout. The long-limbed defender was instrumental in gaining a string of intercepts for the Magic and keeping her team on the front foot early on.

Williams was well backed up by her team-mates, who overall were more effective on attack and damaging on defence than the Sting, who were appearing in their ninth successive final.
``It’s a lot sweeter beating them at home and it feels even better than last year,’’ Williams said. ``It’s great winning two in a row and this great record we have against the Sting now if we can keep building on it, that will be even better.’’

Ahead by just five (32-27) at halftime, the Magic made no race of the second half to completely extinguish any late fightback from the Sting, which has been a hallmark of the southerner’s in the past. By game’s end Sting coach Robyn Broughton had used all of her four shooters with none of the combinations able to break the Magic dominance.

The Magic had slightly the better of the first quarter, making the most of a couple of turnovers to go into the first break two goals ahead at 14-12, helped by the Sting concedding a run of penalties.

Rumours of Donna Loffhagen playing in the defence line for the Sting were nipped in the bud when the lanky dual international lined up at goalshoot for the visitors, who were measured and controlled on attack.

Williams was into action early, snapping up some vital extra ball for the Magic on defence while at the other end the Sting frittered some of their opportunities when their shooting was astray.

The Magic increased the tempo in the second quarter with veteran midcourter Amigene Metcalfe controlling the flow through the centre while shooters Irene van Dyk and Tanya Lund barely missing a beat as they converted with ease, the pair going on to convert all their attempts during this quarter.

The Sting had to work hard to get the ball to their shooters in the face of some stubborn defence work from Williams and Joline Henry but Belinda Colling showed her playmaking flair with a consummate display. The Sting missed just the one attempt in the second quarter but the signs were ominous as the Magic went to halftime 32-27 ahead.

Natalie Avellino replaced Colling at halftime but the change had little effect as the Sting continued to struggle against an increasingly dominant Magic.
The Sting’s defensive patterns became increasingly fragile as the Magic broke through at will. The visitors were unable to stem the flow as the Magic got one hand on the trophy when they shot to a 48-36 lead heading into the last quarter.

Starved of possession, the Sting only had nine shots at goal during this quarter compared to the Magic’s 17 which exemplified the home’s team superiority and from there it was a easy stroll home.


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