The battle for third place in the ANZ Premiership continues with the MG Mystics reclaiming the coveted position with a commanding 68 – 47 defeat of the visiting Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in round 13 at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland.

The Mystics slot back into bronze with rivals the AVIS Magic still to play their round 13 game versus the Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse on Monday 8 July.

It was a close fought first quarter as both teams vied for the upper hand early on and contended with an unusually high number of turnovers.

Mystics goal shooter Grace Nweke took a few minutes to get her eye in under the post as she weathered physical defence from both Abby Lawson and Taneisha Fifita. The long-feed into Nweke was also a little off target to begin with but came right later in the quarter.

Goal attack Dani Binks utilised her quick footwork to produce strong leads into space and take the pressure off Nweke.

In the defensive end goal keeper Carys Stythe and goal defence Phoenix Karaka produced good turnover ball to keep the Steel at bay, shutting down goal attack Georgia Heffernan’s favoured baseline drive and opening up a four goal advantage.

Binks scored a clutch shot right on the buzzer to enter the second quarter with the momentum in the Mystics’ favour.

The second quarter saw the Mystics open up a handy 10-goal lead, thanks in part to the dead-eye shooting of goal attack Filda Vui and goal shooter Hannah Glen, both who finished the quarter on 100%. Neither was afraid to put up the long shots and kept the Steel defence guessing with a more mobile combination compared to Nweke’s strong hold under the post.

Katie Te Ao took the centre bib for the second quarter and let some great feeds go into her shooters straight off the bat.

The Mystics’ defensive unit was solid throughout the centre and defensive thirds, forcing a held ball turnover and creating an almost impenetrable wall in the shooting circle much to the Steel feeders’ frustration. Karaka alone produced two intercepts and a rebound, while Stythe also added a rebound to her tally.

At half-time the Mystics entered the sheds up 33 – 23.

The third and championship quarter was another opportunity for the Mystics to cement their lead, putting their foot down to extend the gap to 16.

Hannah Glen and Filda Vui continued their stellar shooting, nailing more long range shots before Glen was forced to the bench with an ankle injury, replaced by Dani Binks who moved into goal attack. Nweke later returned to court at goal shooter, creating further problems for the Steel defence who were unable to crack the Mystics attack.

Tayla Earle proved a valuable asset in wing attack, leading the feeding with 14 in the third quarter alone and providing a reliable option on the circle edge.

The Steel had moments of brilliance, shifting the ball through court at lightning speed when they were able catch the Mystics on the hop, however they were unable to maintain the consistency needed to wear away at the deficit, going into the final quarter down 34 – 50.

The Mystics were a runaway train in the final stanza, maintaining momentum despite a number of rolling substitutions to extend the lead even further to 21 goals.

Catherine Hall came on at goal keeper and made her impact felt, producing two intercepts and keeping Steel goal shooter Summer Temu to just one shot for the quarter.

Filda Vui maintained an extraordinary 100% accuracy for the entire game, scoring 17 goals from 17 attempts and putting in a heap of work off the ball to create space in the shooting third.

The Mystics kept their impressive winning record at their second home Eventfinda Stadium intact, with just one loss (versus the Magic in 2019) at the venue in the ANZ Premiership’s seven year history.