Magic is quite a fitting word for the side after escaping with a one goal victory over the Thunderbirds who were probably a little unlucky to be the first team leaving this year’s final series. After a nervous first quarter the Adelaide side managed to lead for the majority of the match.
But that is when sport can be so cruel – especially when there is time and opportunity.
Netball fans will know that every goal counts, and a miss can be as valuable as any goal scored. This perhaps is a hefty understatement considering the way the match finished.
Thunderbirds GA Erin Bell was magnificent throughout the match, but one missed attempt with just over a minute remaining allowed the Magic to snatch the lead after scores were levelled. Likewise WA Emily Beaton; her feeds into athletic GS Carla Borrego were for the most part pinpoint accurate, but just one bad pass late in the game allowed Magic GK Leana De Bruin the opportunity to tap possession to her WD Elias Shadrock. From that play the Magic levelled the scores.
It was these two plays that kept the Magic in with a chance of victory; chances good sides take advantage of. It was fitting then that the ball would reach the most experienced hands on court for the Magic to steal the lead – the hands of veteran GS, Irene Van Dyk.
It was another 100% shooting effort from Van Dyk and it was her steady presence that put the home side ahead with just twenty seconds remaining.
The first quarter was looking as though the Magic were on course to replicate their 17 goal defeat of the Thunderbirds in round 13 after a good start and speedy ball movement gave them an eight goal lead at the first break. Not helping the visitors was an unusually off start from their shooters with both Bell and Borrego missing opportunities.
A change in the Thunderbirds line up for the second quarter proved effective with starting GK Sharni Layton switching with GD Rebecca Bulley. The extra mobility of Layton around the Magic attacking third shut down GA Julianna Naoupu and Bulley did a fine job on Van Dyk. At half time the visitors pinched the lead and momentum to go ahead by three goals.
Of considerable note was the dramatic turn around in the second quarter with the score being 19-8 to the Thunderbirds.
The mid-court and attacking ends of both sides were the crucial areas of the third and fourth quarters as penalties dominated the defensive ends. Erin Bell was proving to be unstoppable as Magic GD Casey Williams was continually penalised in the circle. Heading into the final 15 minutes the Thunderbirds led by just 1 goal.
Victory was starting to seem inevitable for the Thunderbirds after a turnover and a solid performance through the mid-court gave them a three goal lead throughout the final quarter. However, the Magic never gave in and kept the pressure on their opponents to force that fatal turnover and missed shot to get them home.
One statistic the Thunderbirds will be disappointed with will be the penalty count after the side was penalised 90 times for contact and obstruction – 29 times more than the Magic.
The Magic will now prepare to take on their fellow New Zealand rivals, the Northern Mystics, in the preliminary final to determine who will play in the 2012 grand final against the Melbourne Vixens in Melbourne. The preliminary final will be played on Monday the 16th of July in Auckland.
This means that once again the Grand Final will feature a side from Australia and New Zealand – showing that the success of the trans-Tasman concept continues after its inception in 2008.
(image courtesy of tvnz.co.nz)