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Firebirds relentless in thumping Magic

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/06/2016
English international Jo Harten worked hard in sinking 32 from 38. © Getty Images English international Jo Harten worked hard in sinking 32 from 38.

Queensland Firebirds roared back to their relentless best in dispatching the Magic 71-47 at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on Monday.

The win puts them back on level pegging with the NSW Swifts at the top of the trans-Tasman netball league's Australian conference with just one round remaining.

The Swifts hold top spot on goal percentage, their 125.9 per cent topping the Firebirds' 121.4, but will face the unbeaten Southern Steel in next week's final round while Queensland meet a slightly less demanding foe in West Coast Fever.

Coming off the bye, the Firebirds showed no signs of rust in powering away to a 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

They extended that margin with ruthless efficiency to lead 35-21 at halftime and 53-35 at the three-quarter mark, playing with impressive pace and variation in the front third.

Circle defenders Clare McMeniman and Diamonds skipper Laura Geitz both made timely returns from injury and, after losing two of their last three games, the defending champions were back to their impressive best.

Romelda Aiken (50 from 59) and Gretel Tippett (21 from 27) split the shooting circle well, with the 1.96m Jamaican international showing excellent variety and providing plenty of options for her midcourt feeders.

The Magic missed Silver Ferns midcourter Grace Rasmussen, again sidelined by a troublesome and persistent calf injury, and were also without goal attack Malia Paseka, who is expecting her first child later this year.

English international Jo Harten worked hard in sinking 32 from 38, while Paula Griffin managed 15 from 21.

The Magic sit a distant second in the New Zealand conference behind the Southern Steel, but are assured of a spot in the playoffs even if they lose their last-round match against Adelaide Thunderbirds.

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