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Mystics sink Tactix in key last-round win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/07/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Northern Mystics can start preparing for a trans-Tasman league elimination final after their crucial 62-54 defeat of the Tactix.</span> © Getty Images Northern Mystics can start preparing for a trans-Tasman league elimination final after their crucial 62-54 defeat of the Tactix. Northern Mystics have all-but clinched New Zealand's third spot in the trans-Tasman league play-offs after pulling away from the Tactix 62-54 in Auckland.

A dominant second half thrust the Mystics clear in a tense final-round fixture, meaning they will finish third in the New Zealand conference unless the Pulse can pull off a huge and unlikely win over the Melbourne Vixens on Monday.

The Mystics will face the second-placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in an elimination final next week unless the Pulse can win by about 35 goals in Wellington.

The Tactix complete a ninth successive ANZ Championship campaign without reaching the play-offs, a disappointing outcome after making a bright start.

They looked like ending that drought when they led 28-25 late in the second quarter on Saturday before wilting as the Mystics went on an 11-1 run either side of halftime.

The home side were 38-29 clear by the end of the third period and were never threatened over the closing quarter.

Captain Maria Tutaia was typically influential at goal attack, only two days after being forced to skip training in a moonboot as she battled a persistent foot injury.

She sunk 32 of 36 shots and played a major role with her movement and linking with goal shoot Cathrine Tuivaiti (30/32).

Centre Serena Guthrie and wing defence Anna Harrison snaffled five intercepts between them in an impressive Mystics defensive display.

Young defender Zoe Walker was among the best Tactix players while shooters Mwai Kumwenda (35/37) and Bailey Mes (18/20) had their moments although Mes was guilty of some crucial turnovers.

Southern Steel are guaranteed to finish first in the NZ conference and the Magic second, regardless of the result of their respective final games against the NSW Swifts and Adelaide Thunderbirds.

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