Kia Magic consolidated their position at the top of the table with an impressive 49-44 win over Melbourne Vixens in Melbourne on Sunday.
Leading at all the breaks, Magic maintained their unbeaten four-game run to start the season while consigning Vixens to their second successive home court loss.
Vixens kept coming back strongly at the visitors but the new-look Magic, led by the Silver Ferns defensive duo of Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin, held their composure and poise to hold on for a hard-fought win on their first trip to Australia this season.
Shooter Karyn Bailey again got the nod over veteran Catherine Cox in the Vixens’ circle while Magic handed 18-year-old wing defence Jamie-Lee Price her first start at this level.
With the heavyweight defensive pairings at either end of the court – Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield for Vixens and de Bruin and Kopua for Magic – both teams made measured and deliberate starts. With the emphasis by each team on ball retention, an arm wrestle developed from the outset with little to nothing separating two evenly-matched teams.
Magic twice crept out to three-goal leads in the opening stanza, goal attack Ellen Halpenny carrying a big load outside the circle while also showing pinpoint accuracy on the shot. Fortunes flowed back and forth, Vixens repairing the difference as the teams level-pegged to the first break with Magic just nosing in front 14-13.
photos Janos Schmidt