Sunday 23 April, 2023


The Trusts Arena, Henderson

Full time MG Mystics 60 – AVIS Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 49


The MG Mystics have well and truly put their bogey team to bed, beating the AVIS Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by an impressive 11 goal margin at home in the first of two back-to-back games in round 8.

The Magic had it all to play for as captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio led her team onto court for her 100th National League match.

The Mystics were without three of their starting players – Tayla Earle and Sulu Fitzpatrick due to injury and Monica Falkner due to illness – as they looked to secure the win and reclaim top of the table from the Te Wānanga O Raukawa Central Pulse.

Both teams started well, but it was the Mystics’ stifling defence that made it difficult for the Magic to find a clean route through court.

Centre Claire O’Brien, the most recent addition to the Mystics line-up, connected well with Grace Nweke, finding the perfect height on her feed and hitting the top of the circle with ease. Firecracker wing-attack Peta Toeava had zero hesitation in launching the ball into her shooters and worked equally hard on defence in a hot battle with Magic wing-defence Claire Kersten.

Defensive pairing Phoenix Karaka and Carys Stythe contained the Magic’s shooters in the first stanza, coming off with plenty of tip ball, however the Mystics struggled to convert their turnovers.

The second quarter was a much more even contest, with both teams holding back from making changes until midway through the quarter. A change at centre saw Claire Kersten move into the middle for the Magic, while Charlotte Elley pulled on the wing-defence bib and Georgie Edgecombe moved to the bench.

After a tough opening quarter the Magic seemed to find their rhythm, albeit still under suffocating defensive pressure from the Mystics.

Magic goal-keeper Erena Mikaere put intense pressure on Mystics hot shot Grace Nweke who made some uncharacteristic misses from close up, however Nweke was often able to secure the rebound and claim the point. Goal-attack Filda Vui was a calming presence in the circle, not afraid to put up a long-range shot and take control of penalty attempts.

Towards the end of the first half, the Magic’s experienced shooting duo of Ekenasio and Bailey Mes clicked into gear, reading off each other well and creating space under the post.

With just two goals separating the teams at half-time, the Mystics took their opportunity to put the foot on the gas and create some distance between them and their arch rivals.

Katie Te Ao came on and instantly injected energy into the Mystics mid-court, looking increasingly confident wearing the centre bib and coming away with an impressive intercept.

Wing-attack Peta Toeava pulled off a remarkable feed into Nweke in which she seemed to levitate in mid-air from the circle edge. Nweke responded with her own extraordinary flair, plucking a seemingly impossible feed and sinking the shot to create yet further momentum for the Mystics.

Stythe and Karaka were instantly on-song after the break, getting their fingers to a number of the Magics’ shots which helped the Mystics to a nine-goal lead going into the final stanza.

In the first 10 seconds of the last quarter Karaka pulled off a rangy intercept, sending a message that the Mystics were going to be hard to chase down.

Ekenasio led from the front with some impressive feeds into Mes and proving herself to be the consummate playmaker for the Magic as they tried to eat away at the Mystics’ lead.

Toeava took a tumble in the shooting third and was replaced by Claire O’Brien at wing-attack as she received precautionary treatment for a twinged right foot.

Amy Christophers came on at goal-keeper for the Magic and within minutes had added an impressive block and intercept to her stat-sheet.

With the clock running down and the Magic still unable to grasp control, the Mystics put a cap on the game with Stythe taking two crucial turnovers and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson snatching a stunning intercept down the sideline.

A long-range feed into Nweke with less than five seconds on the clock sealed the win 60 – 49, with the Mystics reclaiming top spot going into their second game of the double-header versus the Robinhood Stars on Monday 24 April.