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De Bruin key in Magic win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/07/2016

Captain Leana de Bruin led from the front as the Magic battled their way to a 56-55 trans-Tasman netball league win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Hamilton on Sunday.

The 104-Test Silver Fern had proven a game-long menace in the Thunderbirds' shooting circle, picking up a series of deflections and intercepts in tandem with ever-improving goal keeper Kristiana Manu'a.

But she saved her best until last, snaffling the vital turnover with just 30 seconds left on the clock to send the Magic into next week's New Zealand conference playoffs on a high note.

It was a win which appeared unlikely at the end of the first quarter at Claudelands Arena, as the visitors powered out to a 17-9 lead as the Magic midcourt struggled to find their timing in the attack third.

At the other end of the court for Adelaide, Kristina Brice (37 from 42) and Erin Bell (18/22) matched accuracy with slick circle work in missing only two of their 19 shots on goal.

Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald pushed Jo Harten (40/44) back to goal shoot at the first break, replacing Paula Griffin (3/3) with Ellen Halpenny at goal attack, and the home team never looked back.

With Halpenny (13/17) and Harten converting the turnover ball generated by a more combative midcourt defence, the Magic took the second quarter 17-10 to cut back Adelaide's lead to 27-26.

The Thunderbirds bossed the early stages of the third quarter to extend their lead out to five, but the Magic finished the spell with a roar in sinking four goals on end to hit the front 43-41 with 15 minutes remaining.

The two teams matched each other goal for goal right until de Bruin snared the key intercept with just 30 seconds remaining.

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