Cold Power Magic have progressed to next week’s New Zealand Conference Final following a dominant 63-47 win over the SYKCITY Mystics in the Elimination Final in Hamilton on Sunday.
Magic will meet Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel next Sunday, continuing their great success as the only team to make the Finals, from both sides of the Tasman, in each of the nine seasons of the ANZ Championship.
A dominant start and finish bookended Magic’s third win over the Mystics this season where the contribution of Courtney Tairi and Ellen Halpenny proved pivotal. Midcourter Tairi was in the thick of action both on attack and defensively while Halpenny provided a steadying hand for MVP Jo Harten, who made an outstanding contribution of 44 goals from 48 attempts.
Both teams had seasons disrupted by injury but each was able to call on a full complement for the Elimination Final, including Magic midcourter Grace Rasmussen who lined up in her 100th appearance.
As befitting the importance of the occasion, there was plenty of niggle and it was a willing contest from the outset.
Magic recovered from a slow start to take control of the opening stanza. Tairi continued her recent good form for Magic alongside Jamie-Lee Price, picking up early turnovers to set the home team on their way.
Calm in the heat of battle, shooters Harten and Halpenny found their groove under the hoop to steer the Magic to a handy 17-10 lead at the first break.
The Mystics made wholesale changes on the resumption but found a composed and well-drilled Magic hard to crack.
Anna Harrison made an impact from wing defence to stem the Magic’s flow but a standout effort from defender Kristiana Manu’a ensured Magic retained the upper hand. As the last line of defence, Manu’a did a fine job in keeping Mystics shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti quiet as Magic hit the main break with a 31-24 lead.
Mystics suffered a big blow when losing talented midcourter Nadia Loveday to a knee injury early in the third stanza.
However, the third stanza went the same way as the second, the visitor’s unable to make inroads as the quarter went on to be drawn.
With Rasmussen controlling proceedings on attack, the composure and variety provided by the Magic proved crucial along with the high level of accuracy from Harten and Halpenny.
England defeated New Zealand 49-46 to level up the three-match Series at 1-1 heading into the deciding match on Wednesday morning.
Sloane Stephens advanced to her first Grand Slam final at the US Open on Thursday night