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Mystics finally finding form: Tutaia

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016 Cathy Walshe

Northern Mystics will extend their injury-plagued and inconsistent trans-Tasman netball league season into the New Zealand conference play-offs if they can beat Mainland Tactix on Saturday.

Skipper Maria Tutaia says her team are going into the winner-takes-all clash with recently bolstered confidence after a competitive 59-53 loss to Australian frontrunners NSW Swifts five days ago.

"We would have liked to perform like that earlier on in the season, but we've had so many players who've been injured, been in and out of our team, and we've got players out of position as well," Tutaia told NZ Newswire.

"But that's what we're capable of, and hopefully it's what we'll produce on Saturday."

Tutaia sat out Mystics training in a moonboot on Thursday, a precautionary measure as she battles a persistent foot injury, but is not in doubt for the key game at the Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Unbeaten Southern Steel are top qualifiers from the New Zealand conference on 23 points, with the second-placed Magic also assured of a berth on 10.

But the Mystics, Tactix and Pulse are all locked on five points, battling for the final spot.

The Pulse are off the pace in terms of goal difference, and need an unlikely big win over the Melbourne Vixens to have any chance of leap-frogging into third place.

Tutaia says the Tactix pose a real challenge, particularly after edging the Mystics 56-55 last time the two teams met in April.

They have an athletic and unpredictable shooting circle in Mwai Kumwenda and Bailey Mes, some gritty circle defenders, and a well-drilled midcourt.

"They're super tough, and when push comes to shove they always turn up to play," Tutaia said.

"They can play both games - the aerial and the flat ball game, the short, sharp, fast one.

"We'll be trying to take them on one-on-one and really disrupt them from the very first whistle."

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