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MG Mystics Overpower Avis Magic 64-52 In 2024 ANZ Premiership Season Opener

13 April, 2024

Once warmed up, defending champions the MG Mystics put all teams on notice when producing a decisive second half to open the 2024 ANZ Premiership with an impressive 64-52 win over Avis Magic in Hamilton on Saturday.

With the annual Hobbiton Movie Set Cup up for grabs, the home side and their supporters embraced their partnership with Hobbiton while showcasing a little bit of Middle Earth to embrace the occasion in their season-opener.

On the back foot until the early stages of the third quarter, the Mystics finally found their groove to hit top gear while providing a telling illustration of their real worth to retain the fifth edition of the Hobbiton Cup.

In a game which highlighted the introduction of the new rules, with a player from each team being stood down for two minutes apiece in the interests of player safety, there was plenty to like about both teams.

Stacked with talent, the Mystics showed their ability to score quickly with Grace Nweke nailing 50 goals while the team, as a unit, were clinical in turning around an inconsistent first half.

With multiple changes to their team this year, the Magic showed plenty of promise during an enterprising first half, the new shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Saviour Tui, particularly, proving they will be a real threat going forward.

Talented young defender Catherine Hall relished her first start when pairing up with the experienced Phoenix Karaka to put the early squeeze on the home side’s shooters but it didn’t take long for the Magic to hit their straps.

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At times, the Mystics made it look easy in getting the ball to ever-present shooting threat Nweke but the Magic produced plenty of their own impressive moments through the combination of Ekenasio and Tui.

Overcoming early nerves, Tui worked in seamlessly with a fresh and energetic-looking Ekenasio, the pair working perfectly in tandem through their timing and speed. At the other end, the Magic were able to pick up defensive turnovers to wrest a 16-14 lead at the first break.

The Mystics levelled up early on after the resumption with a real arm-wrestle setting the tone for the rest of the stanza.

Let down by errors on attack, the Mystics struggled for consistency, the Magic mixing and matching their midcourt options to keep the visitors guessing.

With neither side giving an inch and Tui continuing to impress with her volume and accuracy, the Magic kept their noses in front when taking a tenuous 31-30 lead into the main break.

The home side couldn’t have asked for a better start to the third quarter, stringing together four straight goals to forge the biggest lead of the game when building a five-goal buffer.

Just as quickly, the Mystics clicked into overdrive, the delivery of quality ball from midcourters Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle into the reliable hands of Nweke provided the defending champions the scope to make the Magic pay.

The introduction of shooter Hannah Glen and defender Carys Stythe changed the dynamics for the Mystics. The Magic lost their shape under the onslaught as they were placed under constant pressure.

With captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson a constant presence in carrying the ball forward as well as creating the disruption from wing defence, the Mystics produced a purple patch to out-score the Magic 11-1 and with it taking a handy 47-41 lead at the last turn.

© Scoop Media

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