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Magic 'peaking' ahead of Swifts semi-final

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/07/2016 Georgie Moore

Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald believes her side is peaking at the right time ahead of Monday's trans-Tasman netball semi-final against her former team the NSW Swifts.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have been here before but Fitzgerald isn't letting last year's eight-goal semi-final loss to the Swifts hang over their heads.

"Both the Swifts and the Magic are very different teams to what they were this time last year," Fitzgerald said.

Magic showed they were hitting top form when they emerged as surprise New Zealand conference victors with a two-goal win over the previously-undefeated Southern Steel.

It came after a weak start to the season, when Magic lost five of their first six games, including a 28-goal defeat at the hands of the Swifts in round two.

Fitzgerald said her team had been helped by the recent return of key players in captain Leana de Bruin and mid-courter Grace Rasmussen from lengthy injury spells.

"It's really only been in the last month that we have had all players available and that's made the development of any kind of structure difficult for us," Fitzgerald said.

"[Now] we've got our players back and are having proper training sessions."

Fitzgerald will come up against some of her past players - including Swifts veteran Susan Pettitt - and former Magic captain Laura Langman, who transferred across the ditch this season.

Pettitt said while the Swifts were well-versed against New Zealand sides, "we know [Magic] are a completely different team from the the beginning of the year".

"They've hit their form at the right time," she said.

"I played under Julie for many years, she knows her opposition really well. She knows how to get her team up for a big game."

Pettitt said the Swifts were working to overcome lapses which cost them dearly in their 63-52 loss to the Queensland Firebirds in Monday's Australian conference final.

"We playing 10-12 minutes of really good netball each quarter, then we have a pause and that is what happened against the Firebirds."

Monday's winner will head to the grand final against the Australian semi-final victor, either the Queensland Firebirds or Southern Steel, on July 31.

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