The MG Mystics have opened their ANZ Premiership 2024 campaign with a come from behind win versus the AVIS Magic 64 – 52 back where they claimed last year’s title at GLOBOX Arena in Hamilton.

The defending champion Mystics retain the Hobbiton Cup as reward for their 12-goal round one victory which saw new signing Catherine Hall get her first ANZ Premiership start at goal keep alongside vice-captain Phoenix Karaka at goal defence.

The Magic looked to have the upper-hand from the start with the new shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Saviour Tui settling into their work under strong defensive pressure from the Mystics.

The ever-mobile Ekenasio created space for Tui under the hoop where she found her rhythm in the second quarter, helping to retain a lead over the Mystics into half-time and earning herself the ANZ Player of the Match.

The Mystics feeders were quick to showcase their laser vision into Grace Nweke in the shooting circle, with Peta Toeava firing a particularly spectacular long-range feed from halfway.

Magic defender Oceana Maihi found herself in the sinbin early in the second quarter under the new two-minute suspension ruling. Despite playing with one woman down, the Magic managed to keep pace with the Mystics and goal keep Erena Mikaere even came up with an intercept whilst working solo in the defensive circle.

Georgia Takarangi moved into goal defence at the end of the two-minute spell and brought another level of defensive pressure into the circle, forcing the Mystics to work their angles in order to break the seal.

Former Mystics player Claire O’Brien came on at wing attack in her new colours for the season and managed to create some great attacking options for the Magic, helping her side to a four-goal streak early in the third stanza.

The dream run was short-lived however, with the Mystics’ substitutions of Hannah Glen at goal attack and Carys Stythe at goal keep making their impact felt. The Mystics steadily clawed back the deficit with some impressive turnovers in their defensive third and some slick attacking play that saw them rediscover their flow through the court.

Glen looked instantly confident with her shooting from long-range and combined smoothly with Nweke in her first game for the Mystics since transferring from the Trident Homes Tactix.

The Mystics snatched the lead for the first time in the third quarter, with what would prove to be a turning point in the match as they made quick work of extending the gap to six points heading into the final 15-minutes.

Both teams made good use of the new rolling substitutions rule, with Mystics head coach Tia Winikerei giving all 10 of her squad decent court-time.

The fourth quarter saw Mystics captain Michaeala Sokolich-Beatson served with the second suspension of the match, however it did little to stop the Mystics’ attacking onslaught that saw them storm out to a 12-goal lead at the final whistle.