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Mystics look for Magic inspiration

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/07/2016 Cathy Walshe

If Northern Mystics want to learn how to shut out a game, they need look no further than their opponents in Sunday's trans-Tasman netball league New Zealand conference play-off against the Magic.

The Aucklanders have twice lost to the Magic this year by just a handful of goals, and must find a way to reverse that at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton if they want to earn a spot in next week's New Zealand conference final against Southern Steel.

The key to that will be compiling four quarters of consistent netball, something versatile Mystics midcourter Serena Guthrie says they haven't really achieved this season.

They came close in losing 59-53 to the high-flying Swifts late last month, with the Australians pulling away only in the last seven or eight minutes.

The Mystics delivered a more consistent performance in beating Mainland Tactix 62-54 in Auckland five days ago, an effort Guthrie says they'll need to improve on if they want to down the Magic.

"They're a team that once they get three or four goals up, especially in the fourth quarter, they're good at closing games out - they're good at passing the ball and keeping possession," she told NZ Newswire.

"If we're going to go down to the wire with them, we have to make sure we're really clinical in those last couple of minutes of each quarter."

The English international says the Mystics will need to be disciplined in maintaining possession, especially given Magic shooter Jo Harten's relentless accuracy in converting any turnover ball.

"The last couple of times we've play the Magic, we've managed to kind of get a lead but we've not necessarily adjusted when they've come back at us," Guthrie said.

"For us, it's just about adjusting correctly at the right times and watching our turnover rate when it's really tight."

Guthrie admits that a seemingly endless procession of injuries hasn't helped their up-and-down season, but this week it looks like coach Debbie Fuller will have a full squad from which to choose.

"That means we can make better decisions in terms of people coming off the bench - it helps your consistency knowing you've got people who can go hard out and at 100 per cent."

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