The MG Mystics are back in the winners’ circle defeating the Stars 56 – 51 in round five of the ANZ Premiership at Pulman Arena in Auckland, to retain the Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge trophy.

It was the first time the two Auckland sides have met since last year’s Grand Final showdown and there were not only Super City bragging rights on the line, but the chance to break their respective losing streaks, with the Mystics coming off back-to-back losses and the Stars yet to get a win so far this season.

The Mystics got off to another strong start, flaunting their fluidity through court on attack in the first quarter and finding space in the shooting circle with ease.

Centre Tayla Earle and wing-attack Peta Toeava worked the angles around the shooting circle seamlessly, using the speed of the ball to open up the defense and relieve the pressure on their shooters.

Wing-defence Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was a workhorse at the opposite end, restricting the movement of Stars speedster Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and shutting down their options on attack.

Both shooters Filda Vui and Hannah Glen maintained 100% shooting accuracy in the first stanza to help the side to a five goal lead early on.

Stars goal-keeper Kate Burley made her presence felt in the second quarter, coming away with a tip and an intercept in the first five minutes to reverse the momentum in her side’s favour.

The Stars continued to apply strong pressure through the middle, forcing the Mystics to make a number of passing errors and allowing the Stars to claw back the deficit.

Stars midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Holly Mather looked more settled in the second quarter, managing to find the circle edge and release the ball into their shooters without hesitation.

Despite the fight-back, the Mystics managed to hold onto their lead heading into half-time up by two 29 – 27.

The third quarter again proved to be where the Stars found their rhythm, as they played with more confidence to take the lead for the first time in the match.

Wing-attack Holly Mather showed great vision with a long-feed into goal-shooter Maia Wilson under the post.

The Mystics took the opportunity to make some changes at both ends, with Dani Binks replacing Filda Vui at goal-attack and Catherine Hall coming on for Carys Stythe at goal-keeper.

Some more passing errors from the Mystics allowed the Stars to strengthen their grip on the quarter, with the Stars defenders quick to capitalise on their opportunities.

Even so, the Mystics maintained their two-point lead heading into the final quarter 41 – 39.

A calm and composed Mystics side returned to court for the final effort, with the team looking after their possession and converting it into points on the board.

Defenders Phoenix Karaka and Catherine Hall combined well to produce a number of rebounds and turnovers to give the Mystics a precious four goal lead.

Goal attack Filda Vui went off midway through the final quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury, finishing her night on an impressive 92% shooting accuracy.

She was replaced by Dani Binks who took no time to settle back in, sinking some beautiful shots and moving well around the circle.

Stars goal-keeper and ANZ Player of the Match Kate Burley was once again immense in the last 15 minutes, doing her best to disrupt the Mystics’ flow and provide chances for her side to regain the lead.

Goal-shooter Hannah Glen had the final say however, scoring a buzzer beater to make it 56 – 51 and finish on 91% shooting accuracy.

The Mystics remain third on the table heading into round six, while the Stars are yet to have a win this season.