A big third quarter helped the Northern Stars register a 57-47 win over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in their ANZ netball clash in Tauranga on Wednesday night.
With the scores locked at 28-28 at halftime, the Stars came out firing, outscoring their opponents 16-5 to help secure a vital win in the playoff race.
The result extends the third-placed Stars' gap over the Magic to six points, with the top three teams qualifying for the playoffs.
The Magic, wearing their original colours to mark 20 years of the joint Waikato-Bay of Plenty partnership, had little to cheer about, after producing an even spectacle during the first half, but falling off the pace.
The Stars held a narrow 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, before the Magic hit the lead for the first time, thanks to four consecutive goals from shooters Kelsey McPhee and Monica Faulkner.
A run of four straight goals by Stars shooters Ellen Halpenny and Mia Wilson to end the quarter levelled the scores at the main break.
When the teams returned to the court, the Stars continued where they left off, scoring seven goals in the first five minutes of the third quarter, as the Magic struggled to get the ball inside the shooting circle and the visitors led 44-33 at the end of the third.
Changes of personnel to the home side helped limit the damage, but with their foot on the pedal, the Stars were in no mood to let the Magic back in for the run home.
Wilson finished with the best shooting stats of the game, landing 36 of her 41 attempts, while teammate Halpenny was 21/23.
For Waikato, Falkner led the way with 23/28, with McPhee not far behind, converting 19/25. Abigail Latu-Meafou also contributed with 5/7.
The Stars face the winless Northern Mystics in their next match, while the Magic tackle the second-placed Central Pulse.