Magic thrive un­der pres­sure to take win

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By AARON GOILE

Has there ever been a team that thrives on so much pres­sure?

Sud­den death matches and the Waikato- Bay of Plenty Magic never re­ally used to be a good a mix, but this team have come of age.

When the chips are down, the Magic pro­duce their best.

Ev­ery­one saw that year when they went sud­den death mode claimed the ti­tle. Now they are at it again. Pre­car­i­ously placed, with an­other loss po­ten­tially sea­son end­ing, the Magic faced no easy task in top­pling the sec­ond- placed Queens­land Firebirds on the Gold Coast on Sun­day.

Win­ning in Aus­tralia has al­ways been a bat­tle for any New Zealand side, with the Magic hav­ing coughed up their pre­vi­ous two fix­tures over the ditch this year.

But at the week­end, on the back of the an­nounce­ment from coach Noe­line Tau­rua that she’s stand­ing down at the end of the sea­son, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons pro­duced a su­per fight­back to claim a thrilling 65-62 win in ex­tra time.

‘‘ Be­cause it swung so much, we knew that we had to go right to the end,’’ Tau­rua said. ‘‘ Be­cause of that I’m ec­static, I’m very proud.’’ last into and

It’s an irony that the Magic save their best for when they’re most des­per­ate, but the predica­ment is prov­ing a help­ing hand.

‘‘I think for us it makes it eas­ier when we have nowhere else to go apart from do­ing the job that we need to,’’ Tau­rua said.

‘‘It helps us in re­gards to the ur­gency and it ends up com­ing back to what the team means for us.’’

For the first time this sea­son Tau­rua stuck with the same seven through­out the game, which in­cluded Jodi Tod-El­liott’s first start of the year, at wing de­fence.

The coach was on the cusp of changes head­ing into the last quar­ter but be­lieved con­sol­i­da­tion was needed.

Romelda Aiken ( 42/ 47) was pre­dictably danger­ous for the Firebirds, while classy goal at­tack Natalie Med­hurst (20/25) had her mo­ments.

For the Magic Irene van Dyk ( 30/ 31) sunk some cru­cial shots when it mat­tered, while Ellen Halpenny ( 35/ 45) again took on the dom­i­nant role, as Laura Lang­man pro­duced some nice ball into the cir­cle.

While she was shaky at times, Halpenny was equally bril­liant at other stages.

The Magic took early con­trol, as Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin stamped their mark on pro­ceed­ings at the back and helped the vis­i­tors to a 24-19 half­time lead.

The Magic have been guilty of a poor pe­riod here or there, and the third stanza yes­ter­day was it.

Penal­ties, missed shots and and turnovers handed the Firebirds the ini­tia­tive and they leaped out to a 34-30 lead, tak­ing the quar­ter 18-11 to go to three quar­ter time up 37-35.

But the Magic quickly got them­selves back in front, be­fore a nail bit­ing fi­nale.

Halpenny scored a mas­sive goal for 51- 50 with a hand­ful of sec­onds left, then a long ball was launched to Aiken and it was only a con­tact from Kopua which al­lowed Aiken to take things to ex­tra time.

With the Firebirds scor­ing the first four goals in ex­tra time, the Magic looked gone, but they stayed in the con­test.

A break­ing penalty by the hosts and a late Kopua in­ter­cept proved cru­cial, then the Firebirds were dealt a harsh call, with a ball go­ing out off Tod-El­liott but be­ing ruled to have come off Chelsea Pit­man. With less than a minute re­main­ing the game was safe.

‘‘We take a lot of heart out of this game, but it’s not the end of it, it’s just one game and we know we’ve got four more to go if we want to make the top four,’’ Tau­rua said.

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