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Northern Stars upset Magic

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017

The Northern Stars have racked up back-to-back wins for the first time in the national netball premiership, downing the Magic 55-50 in Manukau on Monday.

Bolstered by last week's 59-53 win over the Mystics, the Stars batted back from a first-quarter seven-goal deficit to inflict a third successive loss on the Magic.

The third-placed Magic had looked set to run away with the match after the first quarter, closing out the spell with 6-1 scoring spree for an 18-11 lead.

Stars coach Julie Hoornweg opted for wholesale changes at the break, shifting skipper Leana de Bruin back to goal keep and moving Kayla Cullen from wing defence to goal defence.

In tandem with a more robust defensive effort outside the circle, the new combination proved more effective in shutting down dominant Magic shooter Lenize Potgieter (34 from 37).

At the other end of the court, the supply of ball into goal shoot Maia Wilson was improved by the introduction of two former Silver Ferns.

Courtney Tairi came in at centre as Fa'amu Ioane shfted to wing defence, while Malia Vaka replaced Fijian international Afa Rusivakula at goal attack.

The changes worked a treat, the Stars looking more confident in their drive to the circle edge and in feeding their shooters.

They hauled back the Magic lead to just one, 30-29 at the main break, then hit the front with three quickfire goals to open the third quarter.

But while they stretched out to a six-goal lead late in the spell, the Stars lost their composure and the Magic battled their way back to trail 38-41 at the end of a niggly and physical quarter.

However, not even the loss of Wilson (26 from 31) three minutes into the final stanza with an ankle injury could halt the Stars.

Rusivakula returned to steady the shooting circle with Vaka and secure the Aucklanders' fourth win of the season, although they still sit fifth in the six-team competition.

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