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Tactix score nailbiter victory over Stars

The Stars came incredibly close to their first win in the ANZ Premiership but were beaten by the Tactix
The Tactix kept the Stars winless in the ANZ Premiership with a one point win in Christchurch PHOTO: NETBALL NZ/MICHAELA BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

The Stars came agonisingly close to their first win of the season in Round Seven of the ANZ Premiership – but it was the Tactix who secured a last-gasp 58-57 victory at Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch. 


The midcourt magic of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, paired with the fleeting return of former Stars lynchpin Gina Crampton in her milestone match, saw the Stars put together a solid 45-minute performance. 


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But the Tactix pulled off a blinding final quarter, flipping a five-goal deficit into a one-goal win in the last 15 minutes.  Ellie Bird’s 47 from 49 (96 percent) was critical to the home side’s eventual triumph which hurtled them to the top of the ladder.  


The Stars went hunting for their first win of 2024, while the Tactix went into the match having only suffered one loss.  Nothing separated the two sides in the first half, with the score tied 29-all, but the Stars couldn’t continue their dominant third quarter effort in the final spell.  


Emma Thompson, returning from concussion, got the start at wing attack for the Stars but it wasn’t long till Crampton came on court to play her 150th national league match – her 52nd game for the Stars (after 98 for the Steel). 


From the outset, the Tactix used Ellie Bird’s height advantage to lob the ball into her hands beneath the hoop, where the Stars needed a lot more patience to work the ball through court. 


Great work from Tactix circle defenders Jane Watson and Karin Burger to win ball wasn’t converted into points at the opposite end, the ball sailing out over the back line under pressure from the Stars' defence. 


That helped the Stars, marshalled by player of the match Reuelu-Buchanan, get a jump on the home side midway through the quarter to lead by two, and they were ahead 15-14 at the end of the first quarter. 


Crampton entered the game after the break, and established her old understanding with Maia Wilson. Although the Tactix briefly took the lead through a Watson steal, a smart intercept from goal defence Khanye-Lii Munro-Nonoa put the visitors back in front. 


There was very little between the two sides in the shooting stats, with all four shooters on court having impressive conversion rates. When the Tactix stole a two-goal march, the Stars turned to Amorangi Malesala, returning from injury, to give Monica Falkner a break at goal attack.  


But neither team could make a clean break, and the two sides were locked at 29 apiece at halftime. 


Two intercepts by the energetic Reuelu-Buchanan gave the Stars the edge by four quickly into the third quarter, with Falkner reclaiming the goal attack bib and shooting with confidence, up against the fierce defence of Watson and Burger. 


But it was the exquisite vision of Reuelu-Buchanan into Wilson, who took control of the Stars’ shooting, which gave the visitors a 46-41 lead at the end of the third.  


The Tactix came out fired-up on defence, particularly in the midcourt, and forced the Stars into ball-holding infringements which helped to level the scores halfway through the quarter.


Wing defence Greer Sinclair’s long bombs into Bird were also a feature of the Tactix’ late comeback. 


With the scores locked at 54-all, Burger took a critical intercept which was ultimately the decider.  

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