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Magic to meet Steel in NZ conference final

NZN 10/07/2016

A big first-quarter and a dominant finish have carried the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to a 63-47 win over the Northern Mystics and into the last four of the trans-Tasman netball league.

The Magic's victory came in a niggly clash in Hamilton on Sunday, with several players getting warnings.

It sets up a New Zealand conference final against the Southern Steel, the only unbeaten side in this year's ANZ Championship, in Invercargill next Sunday.

Magic skipper Leana de Bruin praised the contributions from throughout her side at Claudelands Arena.

"Everybody did their job, everybody kept grinding," she told Sky Sport.

"It was a great team effort."

De Bruin believed composure was another factor in the win.

"It was quite physical out there from both sides and the umpires had to calm us down, but I thought calmness really won at the end of the day."

Mystics captain Maria Tutaia lamented the lapses made by her side.

"They scored from a lot of our turnovers, so definitely a performance we didn't want to end with," she said.

"But we got all our young ones out there, not just tonight, but throughout the whole season, and it has been heartening to see them grow each game."

The Magic had downed the Mystics in two close clashes during the regular season, and the start of the elimination final was a tight one.

The scored was tied midway through the first quarter, before the Magic pulled clear with a five-goal run.

They were helped by their defensive pressure, with goal keep Kristiana Manu'a and mid-courters Jamie-Lee Price and Courtney Tairi making their presence felt.

The home side, celebrating wing attack Grace Rasmussen's 100th match, pushed their advantage out to 17-10 at quarter time, leading Mystics coach Debbie Fuller to make a raft of changes.

But as much as they tried, the Mystics couldn't get closer than within five goals over the middle two quarters, before the Magic pulled away in the final stanza.

England international Jo Harten top-scored with 44 from 48 attempts, while her partner in the Magic shooting circle, Ellen Halpenny, proved a good foil as she also hit 90 per cent with 19/21.

For the Mystics, Cathrine Tuivaiti landed all 22 of her shots, while Tutaia was down at 70 per cent with 19/27.

Defeat for the Auckland-based side was compounded by a nasty-looking knee injury to midcourter Nadia Loveday after an awkward landing.

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