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First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic post impressive win against Thunderbirds
First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic jumped back into second place on the table with an emphatic 55-36 win over Adelaide Thunderbirds, in Adelaide
The visitors overcame a slow start to record their fourth win in Australia and their first in Adelaide while restricting Thunderbirds to their lowest-ever ANZ Championship score.
A strong defensive effort was well backed up by a similar showing under the hoop, where Irene van Dyk enjoyed a stellar outing to post 43 goals from 47 attempts as Magic went on to over-run the young Thunderbirds team.
Magic ensured there were no home town heroics from Thunderbirds, well positioned to play a spoiling role as the visitors found some solid form at the business end of the season.
In the only surprise to either line-up, age-group player Madeleine Proud was given the start at wing attack for the Thunderbirds after a knee injury forced Emily Beaton's withdrawal.
The first quarter was highlighted by a rash of turnover ball courtesy of a mix of good defensive work and some basic errors. It was the back three from Magic - Casey Williams, Jodi Tod and Peta Scholz, playing in her home city - who did a fine job of putting the squeeze on the home team's attacking thrust and picking up plenty of turnover ball in the process.
Erin Bell was forced to shoulder the majority of Thunderbirds' shooting load with key shooting weapon Carla Borrego well contained by Williams and restricted to just two goals through the opening quarter.
At the other end, Magic's key shooter, the experienced van Dyk was a model of consistency as she helped propel the visitors out to a 10-7 first quarter lead.
Struggling with their transition on attack, Thunderbirds replaced Proud with Jo Sutton while Georgia Beaton came off the bench and into wing defence on the resumption. However, the home team still had problems breaching the challenging defensive pressure exerted by Magic and the usually-reliable Borrego was clearly rattled. Growing in confidence, Magic found their flow on attack with midcourters Laura Langman and Jess Tuki providing a slicker and more accurate service to the circle.
Goal attack Julianna Naoupua came into her own, using her clever playmaking skills to combine expertly with van Dyk. Magic benefited from Thunderbirds' high turnover rate and penalty count to push out to a 23-15 halftime lead.
In a bid to instil more movement on attack, Thunderbirds made mass changes for the second half, including the benching of Borrego. Bell moved into goal shoot and Bianca Giteau came off the bench to goal attack as initially the changes got the home team back in the groove. The teams went goal-for-goal, Bell chiming in with a strong effort under the hoop before Magic broke loose.
Clinically stepping up to another gear, Magic moved the ball fluently through court on the back of an impressive defensive effort. With the irrepressible van Dyk on the end of a well-tuned chain, the score continued to climb as Thunderbirds unravelled. Busting the game open, Magic bolted out to a comfortable 39-25 lead at the last break.
More changes, with Borrego lining up against van Dyk at goalkeeper for the run home, did little to help Thunderbirds' cause as they continued to struggle against the well-drilled Magic.