Northern Mystics edge Magic in thriller in Auckland
Northern Mystics have leapfrogged into second place in the national netball premiership with a rugged 59-58 win over the Magic in Auckland on Monday.
The win means the Mystics edge one point clear of third-placed Central Pulse, with the Magic a point further back in fourth as the competition enters its penultimate round.
Runaway leaders the Southern Steel will host the grand final later this month, with second and third place in the six-team competition playing off in a preliminary final to decide their opposition.
Hesitant and indecisive on attack in losing 78-59 to the Steel a day earlier, the Magic lifted the tempo in their front third right from the first whistle.
Sharper work from the midcourt in shifting the ball around the circle created more space for shooters Lenize Potgieter and Monica Falkner.
Despite some close attention from goal keep Anna Harrison and New Zealand under-21 captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, the pair missed only one attempt in the opening quarter to lead 16-15 at the first break.
Magic midcourters Grace Rasmussen and Ariana Cable-Dixon maintained the through-court fluency in the second stanza, with wing attack Rasmussen a key figure in finding space on the circle edge.
But the Mystics drew even with two quick goals in the closing seconds, levelling the scores at 29-29 at halftime.
The Mystics tweaked their midcourt defence in the third quarter, bringing on Storm Purvis at goal keep and shifting Harrison out to wreak havoc at wing defence.
But while the new combination generated more turnover ball, the Mystics attack proved a little too static and the Magic were able to eke out a six-goal lead midway through the third stanza.
But with Harrison hitting her straps, and Sokolich-Beatson hunting to lethal effect outside the circle, the Mystics launched a 7-0 scoring streak to hit the front three minutes out from the last break.
They maintained that margin to lead 44-43 at the three-quarter mark, and then fought off a late Magic run to hang on for the win.