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Magic beat Stars but fall short of final

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/06/2017

The Magic have fallen agonisingly short of a spot in the national netball premiership playoffs despite downing the Northern Stars 58-45 in Tauranga.

The Magic, who had lost six of their past seven matches, needed to beat the Stars by at least 15 goals to finish third and sneak past third-placed Northern Mystics into the preliminary final against second-ranked Central Pulse.

It was always going to be a big ask, especially given that the Stars came away 55-50 winners last time the two teams met.

The Magic gave it their best shot, coming within a turnover in the hectic last quarter, but ultimately fell short to finish the season fourth on the same points as the Mystics but with an inferior goal percentage - 102.95 to 103.17.

The Mystics will face the Pulse in Wellington on Sunday, with the winner of that match travelling to Invercargill three days later to play the unbeaten Southern Steel in the grand final.

The result is something of a letoff for the Mystics, who looked set to host the playoffs before they were beaten 57-46 on Monday by the Tactix.

That opened the door for a desperate last bid from the Magic, who won every quarter in Tauranga but couldn't quite get over the line.

Up 16-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Magic opened out to a 10-goal lead midway through the second spell before a three-goal run right on halftime shrank their lead to 31-24 at the main break.

Strong defensive work from Casey Kopua and Kelly Jury, and fluent play on transition, allowed shooters Lenize Potgieter (37 from 38) and Monica Falkner (21 from 23) to extend the lead to 45-33 at the three-quarter mark.

But although the Magic opened out to a 15-goal lead with 10 minutes remaining in the final quarter, a crucial Leana de Bruin turnover for the Stars in the last minute of play proved decisive.

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