The MG Mystics have fired a warning shot to the rest of the competition, defeating table-toppers the Trident Homes Tactix by a whopping 12-goals 61 – 49 in round 12 of the ANZ Premiership at Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch.

It is the Tactix’s biggest loss of the season so far and a welcome return to form for the Mystics who have rediscovered their confidence thanks in part to the return of superstar duo Grace Nweke and Peta Toeava who have both been absent due to injury.

The defending champions instantly looked to be back to their best opening the match with a dominant run against the Tactix to post a handy nine goal lead in the first 15-minutes.

Grace Nweke had her first start at goal-shooter since returning from injury and Peta Toeava resumed the wing-attack position after sitting out three matches with a knee injury. Their impact was felt instantly with Toeava making some extraordinary feeds into Nweke who held space and worked her angles exceptionally.

Dani Binks started in goal-attack for the Mystics and did a brilliant job to draw the Tactix defence away from Nweke and provide another option through court on attack.

At the opposite end Phoenix Karaka shut down towering Tactix shooter Ellie Bird, forcing goal-attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit to do the lion’s share of the work in the circle. The rest of the Mystics defensive unit disrupted the Tactix feeders and created plenty of turnover ball to add to their growing advantage.

The Mystics entered the second quarter up 20 – 11, and with a confidence we haven’t seen in the past five rounds.

The second quarter saw a number of changes to the Mystics’ lineup, with both Nweke and Toeava moving to the bench to make way for Hannah Glen to slot into goal-shooter, Michaela Sokolich-Beaston to move into centre and Katie Te Ao to pull on the wing-defence bib. Despite the changes, the Mystics managed to keep their foot on the gas and maintain their lead heading into half-time.

Once again the Mystics defence played havoc with the Tactix, stifling their momentum down court and causing indecision on the feed.

On attack the Mystics continued to play with confidence and adapted to the rolling substitutions with Kayla Johnson enjoying a brief stint in the centre bib, before handing it to Katie Te Ao to finish off the quarter.

Some steady work from the Tactix saw them eat into the lead in the final few minutes before half-time, but they still trailed the Mystics by seven goals 31 – 24.

Mystics head coach Tia Winikerei reverted back to her starting line-up of Nweke, Toeava and Binks for the crucial third quarter.

The Tactix responded by moving energetic defender Karin Burger into wing-defence in an effort to shut down Toeava and the long feed into Nweke. With the pressure on Toeava, centre Tayla Earle and goal-attack Dani Binks stepped up to provide solid options in the shooting third and keep the Tactix defence guessing.

Tayla Earle was impressive on defence as well, reading the play to pull off a flying intercept in the centre third and getting her fingertips to a number of deflections around the Tactix circle edge.

The Mystics continued to build on their lead, going on a 10-goal run at one point to give the Tactix plenty of concerns heading into the final stanza down by 14 goals 49 – 35.

It was a very quiet crowd at Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch for the last 15-minutes as the Tactix laboured against a firing Mystics side.

Michaela Sokolich-Beatson continued to be a menace on defence, keeping the Tactix feeders off the circle-edge and putting solid three-foot pressure over the ball to force the pass.

Phoenix Karaka’s outstanding performance at goal-keeper was rewarded with an early rest to make way for Catherine Hall who finished off the game and completed the Mystics’ full team effort with all 12 players taking the court.

Filda Vui was a calm and composed presence in the Mystics’ shooting circle, putting up a great shot volume and stunning fans with a rebound and lay-up shot as she fell out of court.

The Mystics finished the match 61 – 49, putting 12-goals on competition leaders the Tactix to prove they are very much still in the fight for an elimination finals spot.