The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic put an injury-plagued campaign behind them with a confidence-boosting 64-53 win over the Northern Stars in Auckland on Sunday to record their first win of the season.
The similarly placed Stars were just as desperate to deliver a first-up win, particularly in their opening match at home this season in the new Pulman Arena but couldn‘t match the Magic‘s consistency.
The accuracy of Magic shooting duo Lenize Potgieter and Monica Falkner was a telling factor, the pair making the most of their opportunities while the Stars squandered too much ball.
The Stars remained well in the contest until an increasingly-confident Magic unleashed in the final quarter to leave the home team short of answers. The Stars had their bright moments but Magic successfully absorbed everything thrown at them and ultimately showed better execution and finishing.
With Kelly Jury ruled out following a serious shoulder injury, up-and-coming goalkeeper Kate Lloyd took over the custodian‘s position as the Magic made the most of their opportunities in an untidy start from both teams.
There was a flurry of early turnovers going both ways but with the experienced heads of shooter Potgieter, captain Casey Kopua and midcourter Samantha Sinclair providing the steadying influence, Magic stamped their mark with a couple of productive runs to push out to a 14-8 lead at the first break.
Continuing to apply the pressure on the resumption, Magic were poised to continue their early domination but showing more purpose in their attacking play, the home side stepped up with a strong response.
Down by eight at one stage, the Stars found their connections more reliably through court while shooter Paula Griffin discovered her long-range accuracy with great success to edge the home side to within four.
The injection of shooter Ellen Halpenny, for Maia Wilson, coincided with the Stars continuing rise in fortunes but a perfect 19 from 19 shots from Potgieter ensured the Magic maintained a 30-25 at halftime.
The Stars got away to a flyer to open the third term, closing to within three but as they had done throughout the match, just as quickly went off the boil.
Livewire centre Sinclair was in the thick of action for the Magic with her strong attacking play while being equally as effective on defence in helping the visitors push out to a 10-goal lead.
With Wilson back under the hoop and young goalkeeper Kate Burley grabbing some good turnover ball, the Stars were able to stem Magic‘s flow, but the visitors were still handily-placed when leading 46-39 at the last break.