By Ian Harkin
Round 12 may go down as the round when Northern Mystics really put their stamp on the competition. Having beaten Stars, the previous ladder leaders, by eight goals just seven days earlier, they went out and did exactly the same again on their home court. Due to a quirk in the draw, the two teams have actually played each other three times in the past five rounds, and Mystics have won all three clashes. The Stars defence has simply found it impossible to stop the potent Mystics attack. In each of those three matches, Mystics have scored over 60 goals, with young shooter Grace Nweke averaging 56 goals and wing attack Elisapeta Toeava 27 assists.
In this game, try as they might, the Stars defenders couldn’t stop the quick easy flow of ball into the Mystics shooting circle. Anna Harrison was penalised 26 times, including an incredible 17 obstruction penalties. In what was a low-mistake shootout, Stars scored over 60 themselves, with wing attack Gina Crampton responsible for 35 assists. But their inability to disrupt the Mystics attack made their task almost impossible. Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick continued her fine season with five possession gains. With this win, Fitzpatrick’s team have become the clear favourites for the title this year, while Stars now have a fight on their hands just to make the playoffs.
In the second game of the round, Tactix defeated Pulse to keep themselves in the hunt for a finals berth. After losing their first three games of the season, they’ve now won six of their past eight, with narrow losses in the other two. They also have a game in hand over the current top three teams. In what was a mistake-riddled encounter, Pulse turned in surely one of the poorest displays of the year. An unbelievable 37 turnovers were recorded against them, with all 10 members of the team giving up possession at least once.
Tactix were far from perfect themselves, but were just too good in the end. The margin could have been even greater if not for some inaccurate shooting. It was in defence where Tactix did much of the damage. Charlotte Elley did a great job at wing defence, while the combination of Karin Burger and Jane Watson was a menace again, with the duo racking up 11 gains between them. These two teams will now meet again in the rescheduled round 11 clash, and if Tactix could win that one, it would jump them up to 24 points, the same as current third-placed team, the Steel.
The search for Magic’s second win of the season continues, after the team went down at home to Steel by just two goals on Monday night. For Steel, English import George Fisher was back, but she didn’t start the game. Grace Namana who had impressed as Fisher’s replacement the previous week, was given the start, and she played well again. Fisher entered the game in the second half and was on court at the end of the game as Steel held on grimly to their lead.
Down by seven early in the final quarter, Magic piled on six straight and turned the game into a goal for goal struggle, until a run of three Fisher goals gave Steel some breathing space with a minute left. For Steel, Tiana Metuara and captain Shannon Saunders led the attack well, while for Magic, Erena Mikaere came up with eight possession games, and Caitlin Bassett had one of her best games of the year. With this win, Steel closes to just one point behind second-placed Stars, while Magic picked up their fifth bonus point.
Friday, Jul 9
7:15pm – Pulse v Tactix
Sunday, Jul 11
4:15pm – Pulse v Magic
6:15pm – Steel v Mystics
Monday, Jul 12
7:15pm – Tactix v Stars