3 Jul 2016

Playoffs beckon Mystics

7:52 am on 3 July 2016

The Northern Mystics look set to wrap up third place in the New Zealand netball conference and progress to the playoffs after beating the Mainland Tactix 62-54 in Auckland

Erikana Pedersen and Kayla Cullen (L) tussle for the ball.

Erikana Pedersen and Kayla Cullen (L) tussle for the ball. Photo: Photosport

The Central Pulse will need to defeat the Melbourne Vixens by a handsome margin on Monday, and in the process overtake the Mystics shooting percentage, to secure a spot in next weekend's New Zealand conference elimination final against the Magic.

After a tight first half, the Mystics pulled out a big third quarter, which they won 19-11, to set up the impressive win, the home team's greater composure and ability to convert their turnovers putting paid to the Tactix' season.

The home team's greater volume of possession won the day with experienced shooting duo Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Tuivaiti delivering impressive returns of 32 and 30 goals, respectively.

There were few turnovers offered either way in the opening stanza, both sets of shooters having strong starts on the back of slick feeding from their respective wing attacks, Nadia Loveday, for the Mystics, and her opposite Erikana Pedersen.

The tight goal-for-goal exchanges ended with the Mystics holding a narrow 15-14 lead at the first break.

With a rise in intensity, the second stanza produced a bit of everything as the teams battled for ascendancy.

It was the visitors who made the first move. Bailey Mes showed her athleticism on both attack and defence, winning turnover ball while combining in expert fashion with Mwai Kumwenda under the Tactix hoop.

Surging out to a four-goal lead, the Tactix were in the box seat but strong midcourt defence from centre Serena Guthrie and Kayla Cullen and the finishing prowess of Tuivaiti and Tutaia helped the Mystics make a big statement just ahead of the main break.

On the back of five unanswered goals, it was the home team who regained a slim 29-28 lead at half-time.

With Holly Fowler and Cullen on restricted game time, the Mystics made wholesale defensive changes on the resumption with immediate effect. Scoring another four goals in a row, the Mystics went on to break the Tactix resilience during a willing third stanza.

With Guthrie continuing her influence on the back of strong driving play and defensively, in tandem with Temalisi Fakahokotau, the Mystics swung into overdrive.

Securing more turnover opportunities, the Mystics finished the third quarter with a flourish, leaving their mark after racing out to a 48-39 lead at the last break as the Tactix lost their shape.

Mystics Shooting Statistics

Cathrine Tuivaiti 30/32 (94%)

Maria Tutaia 32/36 (89%)

Tactix Shooting Statistics

Mwai Kumwenda 35/37 (95%)

Bailey Mes 18/20 (90%)

Gemma Hazeldine 1/2 (50%)

MVP: Maria Tutaia (Mystics)