The AVIS Magic have snatched third place on the ANZ Premiership ladder from hosts the MG Mystics, winning 54 – 42 in round 11 at The Trusts Arena in Auckland.

For the first time this season the Mystics have fallen outside of the top three and now trail the Magic by one point with just four games to go of the regular season.

The Magic pulled away to an early advantage after the Mystics failed to convert their first opportunity at goal and took a few minutes to settle into their work.

It looked to be a nervous start for both sides with plenty of turnover ball and wayward passes. The defensive units at both ends capitalised on those errors, but it was in the shooting end where the Mystics trailed their opponents.

Towards the end of the quarter the Mystics pairing of Hannah Glen and Filda Vui relaxed into their rhythm and put up some nice shots to draw back within reach of the Magic.

Captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was on form from the start, putting immense pressure on the Magic’s feeders and helping her circle defenders to keep the shooters out of range.

The Magic finished the quarter up by two 13 – 11.

Mystics head coach Tia Winikerei made a number of changes in her lineup to start the second quarter, with Dani Binks moving into wing attack and Tayla Earle back into her favoured centre position.

Despite the changes, the Mystics struggled to find good options through court and were forced to throw risky passes that were easily picked off by the Magic defence. Magic goal shooter Saviour Tui made easy work of the turnover ball, utilising her footwork and aerial skills to find ball right under the post.

On the other hand, the Mystics’ shooting circle woes continued, unable to break through the Magic defence and find space within easy range which allowed the Magic to run away with the lead.

Goal shooter Filda Vui produced an impressive intercept that she was able to keep in play as she flew out of court, providing some respite to the Magic onslaught.

The Mystics entered half-time with a big task ahead to claw back a 12 goal deficit.

The third quarter saw Grace Nweke make her long-awaited return to court after sitting out the past seven games with a knee injury. The star shooter received loud applause from the home crowd and looked strong under the high ball and pressure from both Magic defenders.

The Mystics feeders enjoyed having a tall target under the hoop, but seemed a little hesitant to let the ball go to Nweke with as much ease as before.

Mystics wing attack Tayla Earle was a workhorse on both attack and defence, making good feeding choices and coming up with two intercepts in a bid to help her side back into the game.

Despite a solid performance in the third stanza, the Mystics battled to eat away at the gap created in the first half as the Magic maintained a high level of intensity and accuracy under the hoop.

The Magic led the Mystics 45 – 32 heading into the final 15 minutes.

The Mystics had the better of the Magic in the last quarter, scoring 10 goals to the Magic’s 9 but the home team left their run too late for the win.

Goal keeper Phoenix Karaka and wing defence Katie Te Ao applied solid pressure throughout the Magic shooting circle and produced great turnover ball between them, however it wasn’t enough to change the team’s fortunes.

The Magic took home the win 54 – 42 and with it the coveted third place on the ANZ Premiership ladder leading into the final rounds.