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Magic too strong for inconsistent Pulse

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/05/2016

Grace Rasmussen of the BOP Magic protecting the ball during the round nine ANZ Championship match between the Magic and the Pulse at ASB Baypark Stadium on May 30, 2016 in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand © Mead Norton/Getty Images Grace Rasmussen of the BOP Magic protecting the ball during the round nine ANZ Championship match between the Magic and the Pulse at ASB Baypark Stadium on May 30, 2016 in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand A sparkling performance from Silver Ferns midcourter Grace Rasmussen has inspired the Magic to a 54-44 win over Central Pulse at Baypark Arena in Mt Maunganui.

A calf injury has severely limited Rasmussen's court time this season, and the Magic's shooting circle suffered something of a crisis in confidence in her absence.

Missing Rasmussen's drive and intuitive feeding, as well as the steadying influence of skipper Leana de Bruin at the back, the Magic went winless until round seven.

But since the pair have returned, they've recorded wins over the Tactix, the Mystics and now the Pulse, looking increasingly assured with each victory.

De Bruin's direction at the back has helped unleash some devastating defensive forays from young goalkeeper Kristiana Manu'a, while Jamie-Lee Price has continued to grow into a superbly gritty, spoiling wing defence.

The Pulse, who haven't won since their first-round 57-56 victory over the Magic, overcame a shaky start to end the first quarter with a five-goal streak which narrowed the Magic lead to 15-13 at the first break.

But they fell right off the pace in the second stanza, struggling for rhythm and timing on attack and allowing the Magic a feast of turnover ball which translated into a 33-24 lead at halftime.

The Pulse showed good fight over the second half to limit the damage, but struggled on transition when they did generate turnover ball and looked laboured in their connections to the circle edge.

Goal attack Ameliaranne Wells, battling illness, ran herself to a standstill in returning figures of 23 from 30, while 18-year-old goal shooter Maia Wells again impressed in sinking 21 from 24.

For the Magic, English international Jo Harten was successful with 31 from 38, and continued to build an impressive combination with Malia Paseka (15 from 19) and the always-steady Paula Griffin (eight from 11).

The win boosts the Magic into second place in the New Zealand conference with six points, still nine astray of unbeaten leaders Southern Steel.

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