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Defending champion Mystics open with win

Updated: Apr 14

Magic wing attack Ali Wilshier looks to go around Mystics wing defence Michaela Sokolich-Beatson in the ANZ Premiership PHOTO: NETBALL NZ/MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Defending champions, the Mystics have scored a decisive opening victory in the 2024 ANZ Premiership with an impressive 64-52 win over the Magic in Hamilton.

Stacked with talent, the Mystics showed their ability to score quickly with Grace Nweke nailing 50 goals while the team, as a unit, were clinical in turning around an inconsistent first half.

With multiple changes to their team this year, the Magic showed plenty of promise during an enterprising first half, the new shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Saviour Tui, particularly, proving they will be a real threat going forward.


Defender Catherine Hall relished her first start when pairing up with the experienced Phoenix Karaka to put the early squeeze on the home side’s shooters but it didn’t take long for the Magic to hit their straps.

At times, the Mystics made it look easy in getting the ball to ever-present shooting threat Nweke but the Magic produced plenty of their own impressive moments through the combination of Ekenasio and Tui.

Overcoming early nerves, Tui worked in seamlessly with a fresh and energetic-looking Ekenasio, the pair working perfectly in tandem through their timing and speed. At the other end, the Magic were able to pick up defensive turnovers to wrest a 16-14 lead at the first break.

The Mystics levelled up early on after the resumption with a real arm-wrestle setting the tone for the rest of the stanza.

Let down by errors on attack, the Mystics struggled for consistency, the Magic mixing and matching their midcourt options to keep the visitors guessing.

The Magic kept their noses in front when taking a tenuous 31-30 lead into the main break.

The home side couldn’t have asked for a better start to the third quarter, stringing together four straight goals to forge the biggest lead of the game when building a five-goal buffer.

Just as quickly, the Mystics clicked into overdrive, the delivery of quality ball from midcourters Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle into the reliable hands of Nweke provided the defending champions the scope to make the Magic pay.

The introduction of shooter Hannah Glen and defender Carys Stythe changed the dynamics for the Mystics. The Magic lost their shape under the onslaught as they were placed under constant pressure.

With captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson a constant presence in carrying the ball forward as well as creating the disruption from wing defence, the Mystics produced a purple patch to out-score the Magic 11-1 and with it taking a handy 47-41 lead at the last turn.


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