16 Mar 2015

Gutsy Magic fall to defending champs

6:58 am on 16 March 2015

The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have fallen to their second loss of the trans-Tasman netball championship, beaten 51-48 by the reigning champion Melbourne Vixens in an entertaining encounter in Tauranga.

Magic defender Leana de Bruin.

Leana de Bruin put on a sterling performance in her 100th ANZ game. Photo: Photosport

Looking to have made a decisive move when leading by five heading into the last quarter, the Vixens faced a test of character when the Magic produced a strong push to tie the scores up with five minutes remaining.

Unflustered, the Vixens kept their cool, experience ensuring they clinched the points to remain unbeaten after securing their third successive win.

In her 100th game, the Magic captain Leana de Bruin was an inspiring leader of her young charges, claiming vital turnover ball as the hosts pushed the defending champions all the way.

In the end, rushes of blood and the inability to nail their shots proved costly, the Magic enjoying more attempts at goal (69-63) while the Vixens showed their maturity to convert the last four of the match.

The Magic's injury woes deepened when key England shooting import Jo Harten was ruled out of the match after suffering a bruised rib last week.

Young guns Jamie-Lee Price started at centre and Samantha Sinclair at wing defence.

Far from over-awed, Magic recovered from an early five-goal unanswered scoring spree from the visitors to compete on level terms through the opening half.

The competition's youngest team continued to impress with their attitude and ability to keep their much-vaunted opponents honest.

With goal attack Ellen Halpenny and wing attack Grace Rasmussen taking the leadership roles on attack, Magic relied on the stunning aerial prowess of young goal shoot Malia Paseka to get the ball goal-bound, the tactic largely paying off.

Earlier, the Adelaide Thunderbirds produced the second draw of the round when chasing down the Northern Mystics to finish on level terms at 51-all in Adelaide.

In Sunday's first fixture, a rollicking last quarter comeback helped the New South Wales Swifts salvage a 47-all draw against the Queensland Firebirds in Sydney.

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