Kia Magic a step closer with win over Vixens
Defending champions Kia Magic took a decisive step towards the finals series with a tenacious 56-51 win over the Melbourne Vixens in Hamilton on Sunday.
In a rematch of last year’s grand final, the fourth-placed Kia Magic again got the upper hand in the all-important clash against the third-placed Vixens. The pair now sits on equal points, Vixens still in third courtesy of goal differential.
Evergreen shooter Irene van Dyk was a standout for Kia Magic, converting 31 goals from 33 attempts and got the better of her old rival Geva Mentor as she reverted to her traditional holding game which paid off handsomely.
There was strong support through all areas from her team-mates in a game where little separated two willing opponents.
There were no surprises in Kia Magic’s starting seven, coach Noeline Taurua sticking with the same line-up of the last four weeks. Vixens opted for the height of Karyn Howarth at goal shoot where she partnered Tegan Caldwell while Jo Curran got the nod at wing defence.
With international talent spread across both teams there was every expectation of a riveting contest and so it turned out. Perhaps because of the enormity of the occasion, the first stanza was highlighted by a number of turnovers. Both teams made nervous starts but it was the visitors who made the early running.
Defensive duo Mentor and Bianca Chatfield were at their menacing best as Kia Magic had trouble breaching the defensive wall. Howarth and Caldwell were the recipients of a more clinical passage through court, the Vixens shooters slotting everything that came their way.
Although stifled in their through court play, Kia Magic’s patience paid off as the team found their shooters with more regularity, van Dyk proving a model of consistency under the home team’s hoop.
The stanza went goal-for-goal, Kia Magic taking the lead for the first time in the last minute to lead 13-12 at the first break.
The impasse continued on the resumption, the tight, tense rivalry showing no signs of abating. The Vixens first miss at goal inspired a rally by Kia Magic who went on to have the slight edge in the second stanza, a four-goal scoring streak pushing them out to a five-goal lead.
Vixens replied strongly with a four-goal run of their own as neither side could gain the ascendancy, both having their moments but unable to sustain. With so little separating the teams, Kia Magic defender Leana de Bruin thrived in the conditions, picking up timely ball to keep the home team’s noses in front.
Vixens midcourters Elissa Macleod and Madison Browne continued to deliver quality ball to their shooters but it was Kia Magic who held sway at the main break to lead 29-26.
Kia Magic pushed out to a six-goal lead during the third stanza where fortunes again ebbed and flowed. The home team kept their slim advantage but Vixens pushed them all the way. Both sets of defenders pulled off a string of turnover ball as the action swung back and forth with torrid defence ruling proceedings.
It became a war of attrition, neither team backing off in an absorbing contest as Kia Magic went to the last break holding their narrow advantage at 40-38.
It was Kia Magic who finished the stronger, making the most of their opportunities to build a five-goal buffer as their attack line moved up a gear. Captain Laura Langman, Khao Watts and Ellen Halpenny lifted their intensity and accuracy while van Dyk delivered under the hoop.
At the other end, despite a clinical shooting effort from Caldwell, Vixens were denied more opportunities through the desperate defensive exploits of de Bruin, Casey Kopua and the unheralded Jodi Tod-Elliott, who did a fine job of containing the dangerous Browne.
Kia Magic ready for heavyweight showdown
Press Release June 13, 2013
Coach Noeline Taurua is confident Kia Magic will rebound strongly from a sub-standard dress rehearsal for Sunday’s key ANZ Championship netball clash with Melbourne Vixens in Hamilton.
With the regular season nearing a tense conclusion, fourth-placed Kia Magic were given a timely reality check leading up to their much-anticipated outing against the team who sit one place above them.
The re-match between last year’s Grand Finalists has all the ingredients of a desperate heavyweight contest with both teams coming into the match on the back of indifferent performances and needing a win to consolidate a place in the Finals Series with just two rounds remaining.
The defending champions delivered a patchy 10-goal win over their Northern Mystics neighbours while Vixens dropped from second to third on the table in a more dramatic outcome following their upset 48-39 loss to the NSW Swifts.
``We did misfire at times against Mystics and it was a below-par performance,’’ Turua said.
``Going into the Vixens match is a whole different situation…..it’s a new week, a new team, we’re at home and we take the things that we’ve learnt from the last game on board and move on. At this moment I don’t feel any great negatives or positives coming out of that game.
``I’ve got no real concerns. The girls know themselves and we’re very clear about the standards that we set and sometimes the less that is said the better. It was just one of those games and now we’re looking at getting ourselves ready for Vixens.’’
Tuarua said credit had to be given to Mystics, who, with six internationals in their line-up, and playing their last home match of the season, were always going to fire at some stage.
``It wasn’t a comfortable match for us, so I just think for where we’re sitting at the moment, it sets us up quite nicely to know that we can actually play better,’’ she said.
``I don’t feel that we’re on the downward spiral, it was a hiccup and we know that we can be better.’’
With both teams measuring up fairly evenly and with so much at stake, a high quality contest is on the cards.
``Most times when you’re forced in to certain situations you rise to the occasion and we’re both in the same predicament, so it should be a cracking game,’’ Taurua said.
In Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield, Vixens have the most potent defensive duo in the competition but the Silver Ferns pairing of Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin have proved they can be as equally imposing.
Kia Magic captain Laura Langman and Vixens’ Madison Browne are key figures in the midcourt, both feature highly in the goal assists statistics and are influential playmakers.
In the shooting stakes, both Irene van Dyk and Ellen Halpenny feature in the top 10 for goal attempts and accuracy, van Dyk with a 95.5 percent accuracy rate and Halpenny, 78.8 percent. None of Vixens’ shooters rate in the top 10 but on their day Karyn Howarth, Tegan Caldwell and Sharelle McMahon can be as lethal as any.
Fine tuning their timing and execution of the ball delivery have been key focuses of Kia Magic’s preparations this week.
``We’ve got a lot that we need to get better on,’’ Tuarua said. ``If we can control being very focussed and committed to playing our own game, we should do very well.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Kia Magic fend off spirited Mystics challenge
Kia Magic survived a strong challenge before subduing a gallant Northern Mystics 60-50 in Auckland on Monday.
Kia Magic had to wait until the final quarter before quelling a determined and committed Mystics, who came out all guns blazing and with nothing to lose. There was plenty more at stake for Kia Magic, battling to retain their top four spot but in the end, the flattering scoreline and at times unconvincing performance may stand them in good steed for the challenges ahead.
There were no surprises as Kia Magic presented with their settled line-up of recent weeks while Bailey Mes got the nod at goal shoot ahead of Cathrine Latu in the Mystics starting seven.
The hosts also reshuffled their defence line slightly due to the unavailability of Jess Moulds for the rest of the season through injury, the teenaged Jess Bourke lining up at goalkeeper, Kayla Cullen at goal defence and Julie Corletto, wing defence.
Mystics had the better of the opening exchanges, the home team showing a willingness to make a contest of it with a slick and accurate opening.
Belying their bottom of the table position, Mystics pushed the defending champions throughout the opening stanza, Kia Magic finally settling with a five-goal unanswered run to get back on level terms. The visitors were able to push out to a handy advantage through strong defensive pressure in the midcourt where wing defence Jodi Tod-Elliott was particularly impressive to forge a 15-11 at the first break.
Mystics continued to push Kia Magic all the way during a momentum swinging second stanza where there was plenty of intensity but both teams were guilty of sloppy turnovers. Mes repaid the faith in her selection with an impressive showing under the hoop on the back of good service from an attacking line playing with plenty of purpose and intent.
Kia Magic could find little rhythm on attack, their momentum stalled by the exploits of Bourke, Cullen and Corletto as the home team shadowed them all the way. Cullen distributed strongly through the midcourt as Mystics closed right up.
Kia Magic’s superior shooting percentage helped the visitors creep to a shaky 30-26 lead at the main beak.
The home team again produced most of the running in an enthralling third stanza. Kia Magic remained hesitant and flat on attack while Mystics challenged all the way, picking up a string of turnover ball to draw level.
Once again, a late quarter surge and Magic’s accuracy under the hoop helped the visitors regain the lead for a
43-40 lead at the last break.
Kia Magic saved their best until last, getting off to the perfect start in the run home with a five-goal unanswered streak as they finally moved into top gear. With Cullen forced off through injury and Corletto following soon after, Mystics lost their structure as Kia Magic started to deliver with more intent.
Defender Leana de Bruin had a strong outing throughout for the visitors, picking up extra turnover ball in the last quarter to help drive her team home and was well backed up by the tireless Tod-Elliott.
While Mystics enjoyed more attempts at goal, Kia Magic’s greater accuracy proved decisive with Irene van Dyk slotting 33 from 34 and Ellen Halpenny 27 from 30.
Kia Magic ready for Mystics backlash
Press Release June 6, 2013
Winning crunch games has become synonymous with Kia Magic and it’s a familiar setting for their ANZ Championship netball outing against Northern Mystics in Auckland on Monday.
Back-to-back wins against Queensland Firebirds and Southern Steel have kept the defending champions’ hopes of a place in the Finals Series alive but they remain on guard.
Mystics have endured a miserable season and sit anchored at the foot of the table with just one win but there is a feeling they will unleash something special before season’s end and could yet prove the classic spoilers.
``Mystics and Magic have a great rivalry and they’re likely to come up with a big game because they hate losing to Magic. And they’re at home, everyone loves playing at home,’’ Kia Magic goal attack Ellen Halpenny said.
``They haven’t had the best of seasons but they upset the Pulse and the Pulse are no easy beats, so you never know on the day and we’ve just got to make sure we bring our A game.’’
After transferring from Tactix to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty side during the off-season, Halpenny’s game has continued to gain momentum, the strongly-built shooter proving a great foil for evergreen shooter Irene van Dyk with her ability to create play, shoulder the shooting load when required and get up for rebounds.
The former New Zealand under-21 player has stood up admirably in the must-win encounters of the previous two weeks and while downplaying her own form is thriving in the Kia Magic environment.
``I still think there’s heaps to work on but I’m loving learning…..learning off Noeline (Taurua, coach), Irene, Laura (Langman) and Khao (Watts)….just the little things you learn from them,’’ she said.
``My game has definitely improved but I still think there’s a lot more, just the playing smarts and things like that.
``I feel really lucky that I’ve actually got the chance to be coached by Noeline. With her finishing at the end of the year, she might never coach again, you don’t know what she’s going to do in the future, so I have been really fortunate to get this time with her.’’
It is only in recent weeks that Halpenny, 22, has been offered full games, initially sharing the role with Jess Waitapu but with time under her belt, is now building a fruitful partnership with van Dyk, the world’s most capped netballer.
``I love playing alongside Irene, she is just so encouraging,’’ Halpenny said. ``I think she had an amazing game against Steel (last round) and just really stood up for the team. She took a lot of the pressure but she loves it and she showed us how good she is.’’
Halpenny shows little emotion on court and is not fazed by what’s thrown her way, saying, ``What you see on my face is how I feel.’’
With Kia Magic’s attack line showing continued improvement, there’s no slacking off for Halpenny and what they need to produce against Mystics.
``We’ve got to keep working on our structures and still make sure our toolbox is full when it comes to our range of options for any opponents,’’ she said. ``We don’t want to just be one page of the book, we have to have alternatives for different situations.’’
It is a totally different environment from where she has come, the foundation Tactix member registering many more losses than wins during her career in the league.
``It’s a weird feeling to be winning more consistently,’’ she said. ``You can have a crap game and still win which is a very weird feeling to me. I’m used to having a crap game and losing and that’s not a nice feeling. So, it’s nice to be able to gain positives from winning when you are not necessarily playing that well.
``I am really enjoying winning and it makes getting up for the next week a lot easier.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Strong second half gets Magic home
Kia Magic cleared a major hurdle in the race to the play-offs with a battling 58-52 win over the Southern Steel in Rotorua on Sunday.
The win cemented fourth spot on the table for Kia Magic while also reversing the seven-goal loss suffered at the hands of the Steel two weeks ago, the southerners now with a tough job ahead to secure a place in the play-offs.
Behind for the first half, Kia Magic made a decisive move in the third quarter, their attacking line finding more flow and drive while the defensive unit of Laura Langman, Jodi Tod-Elliott, Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin’s combined pressure conspired to bustle Steel into errors.
Kia Magic retained their winning line-up of the previous week, meaning a second successive start for wing defence for Tod-Elliott while Steel also stuck with their tried and true, the minor surprise being Storm Purvis coming in at goalkeeper ahead of Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick.
The home team made the early running, Kia Magic getting extra opportunities as they turned Steel errors into goals. Shooters Irene van Dyk and Erin Halpenny mixed up their play well to open up Kia Magic’s circle as they shot out to a four-goal lead.
The visitors gradually found their feet, Phillipa Finch and captain Jodi Brown showing growing success with the long bomb into key shooting weapon Jhaniele Fowler. Able to score quickly, Steel soon levelled up, four straight goals finishing the quarter in style as the visitors took a 16-14 lead into the first break.
Kia Magic were quickly back on even terms before sloppy and untidy play handed the advantage back to the southerners. The home team were guilty of too many soft errors, slick interplay between the crafty Brown and dominant Fowler helping Steel power out to a seven-goal advantage and threatening to run away with proceedings.
Struggling on attack in the face of strong pressure from Rachel Rasmussen and Purvis, Kia Magic regrouped to stage their own forceful reply. Finding their timing as the game went up a notch or two in intensity, the home team scored five goals on the trot to repair some of the damage.
The quarter ended up all square, Steel retaining their two-goal advantage to lead 30-28 at the main break.
While Steel introduced fresh legs in Shannon Francois at wing attack and Tone-Fitzpatrick (goalkeeper) for the second half, it was Kia Magic who made the biggest impact. Making no changes, Kia Magic sprung into life to show more urgency and control on attack.
Van Dyk and Halpenny found their groove with better movement and positioning while Kopua and de Bruin turned up the defensive heat on Brown and Fowler. With the assured 1.98m Fowler previously proving almost unstoppable, the growing intensity provided a few valuable turnover crumbs for Kia Magic who pounced.
Outscoring their opponents 15 goals to 11, it was Kia Magic who went into the final break with their tails up when leading 43-41.
More big defence from Kopua and de Bruin gave Kia Magic the perfect start as they scored the first four goals on the resumption while keeping Steel scoreless for over three minutes.
With their confidence growing, Kia Magic powered into overdrive, the flow coming into their game as Steel buckled under the pressure, their mounting error count opening the door for the home team. Van Dyk was in commanding form to convert 35 goals from 36 attempts while Fowler was equally impressive with 39 from 40.
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Kia Magic in tune for Steel rematch
Press Release May 30, 2013
Resurgent late season form has Kia Magic in buoyant mode ahead of their ANZ Championship netball rematch with Southern Steel in Rotorua on Sunday.
A gutsy three-goal extra time away win over Queensland Firebirds has rejuvenated the defending champions campaign heading towards the business end of the season.
More than happy with the manner of the win which helped Kia Magic leapfrog Steel into fourth place, coach Noeline Taurua, however, is far from resting on her laurels as the scramble to seal a play-offs spot heats up.
``It was a fantastic game for our team but it was only one game,’’ she said.
``There was a lot of character shown not only out on court but also from those on the bench. Everybody was in that game, it was a full team effort and that is indicative of our team ethics.’’
With four rounds of the regular season remaining, it is only goal differential that separates Kia Magic and Steel. The southerners had the better of Kia Magic by seven goals two rounds ago but lost a little traction when going down to the Melbourne Vixens in their latest outing.
Steel have plenty in their favour, an impressive overall team unit with firepower at both ends, spearheaded by Jamaican import Jhaniele Fowler, the towering scoring machine who has had a sesational impact in her debut season.
``The shooting power of Jhaniele and their ability to score very fast is dangerous,’’ Taurua said. ``It can change momentum so quickly and we’ve just got to be smarter in what we do.
``It’s all about pressure, right across the board. Last time we got caught up with Jhaniele too much but that’s easy to do.’’
Taurua is pleased with the steps taken against Firebirds, the real litmus test now being if Kia Magic can produce the same qualities against Steel.
``We finally just nailed some of those questions we’ve been asking about ourselevs as a team – our team spirit, our commitment and that willingness to really work hard,’’ she said.
``It’s taken us this long but things are starting to come together. All the trainings that we’ve done, the purpose and the reason behind them we haven’t properly displayed, and for us in that game (Firebirds) we had to rely on everything that we had done up until now to come good.
``It’s very pleasing and I think the dots are starting to join.’’
Kia Magic have tended to go through flat patches during most of their games this season and that has become an area of focus.
``For us it’s definitely abouting managing the ebbs and the flows that happen in a game, that’s the key for us, that we’re not reactive to the score and that we can actually control what’s happening around us on court and be able to grab momentum and run with it when the timing’s right,’’ Taurua said.
Happy with how her team pulled together against Firebirds, Taurua was extra pleased with the continuing improvement of goal attack Ellen Halpenny who shouldered much of the shooting load as well as getting through a mountain of work outside the circle.
``I think Ellen’s coming of age,’’ she said. ``It’s probably a little way until the final package presents but she is working very hard and her numbers (stats) are pretty phenomenal for a goal attack. She’s doing brilliantly and getting better all the time.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Extra time thriller for Kia Magic
Defending champions Kia Magic needed extra time before pulling off a thrilling 65-62 win over the in-form Queensland Firebirds on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
With their season on the line, Kia Magic produced their best form at the right time in an intense and exciting contest, fortunes ebbing and flowing throughout as they became the first New Zealand team to win in Australia this season.
Intensity grew in a momentum swinging final quarter, Kia Magic ahead by one with just seconds remaining at the end of regulation time before Firebirds levelled up at 51-all to send the match into overtime.
In what was huge game for both teams, Firebirds pushing to cement a top two spot and Kia Magic fighting to keep their top four hopes alive, things looked decidedly more rosey for the home team when they scored the first four goals of extra time.
Trailing by two in the second half of extra time, Kia Magic finished the stronger, captain Laura Langman dictating on attack while the impressive Casey Kopua stole the vital intercept to give the visitors a winning buffer.
Captain Laura Geitz received a rapturous welcome back from the home crowd after two weeks away from the game following the death of her father as she slotted into her customary goalkeeper’s role. She was joined in defence by Jacinta Messer while Nicola Gray got the nod at wing attack.
For Kia Magic, the experienced Jodi Tod-Elliott got her first start of the season, slotting in at wing defence while Ellen Halpenny (goal attack) and Khao Watts (wing attack) were the preferred options in the attack line.
It was Kia Magic who made the best of starts, influential defenders Leana de Bruin and Kopua being prominent early on in picking off turnover ball from Firebirds key strike weapon Romelda Aiken.
Halpenny stepped up her workload, doing a lot of the hard yards outside the circle as Kia Magic’s attackers showed strong ball security and accurate finishing under the post.
Seven unanswered goals by Kia Magic forced Firebirds into early change with Chelsea Pitman coming on for Gray but the visitors, on the back of more possession, held strong to lead 13-8 at the first break despite some inspiring play from Geitz.
There were more changes for Firebirds on the restart with Demelza McCloud coming on for Messer and Abby McCullock taking over from Gabrielle Simpson. There was more intent from the home side who made several surges in an exhilarating quarter of high quality netball.
But Kia Magic continued to show patience on attack, the link between Irene van Dyk and Langman proving seamless as the visitors’ kept them at bay. Firebirds were not helped by a high penalty count, Kia Magic finishing the stanza strongly to maintain their buffer when leading 24-19 at the main break.
Led by Natalie Medhurst, who became more involved after a quiet opening spell, it was a fired up home team who returned for the second half. Kia Magic struggled to contain the rampant home team who made a storming start to outscore the visitors’ 7-1. Finding an easier passage to goal, Aiken made her presence felt to push the home team into a four-goal lead.
Firebirds defensive effort also stepped up with Geitz, McCloud and McCulloch prominent before a strong finish from Kia Magic helped repair some of the damage. However, it was the home team who held the edge 37-35 heading into the last break and the promise of a thrilling run to the line.
End of an era, Kia Magic coach calls time
Press Release May 23, 2013
Kia Magic head coach Noeline Taurua is set to end her long and frutiful tenure with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty netball team at the end of August.
Under Taurua’s stewardship, Kia Magic has produced an enviable record of being the only team to make the semi-finals every year during the semi-professional era of the ANZ Championship, the only team to make three grand finals and New Zealand’s only team to win the competition.
In making her intentions known early, the Kia Magic mentor is hoping for a smoother handover than would happen if she waited until season’s-end.
``I am bringing this out in the open now because I have the best interests of the Kia Magic team and the Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone at heart,’’ Taurua said.
``The end of the competition is a critical time in regards to the negotiation of contracts and the transition period. From what I have experienced from other teams when a coach goes at the end of the season, it can have a negative impact.’’
When the season winds up in the middle of July, there is a two-week grace before contracting players for the following year begins in earnest.
``I want to make this whole period as seamless as possible and to leave the zone as a whole and team in the best possible space that I can,’’ Taurua said. ``And the timing to be able to do that is critical.’’
Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone Board chair John Wiltshire paid tribute to Taurua’s longevity and success, saying the whole community would be sorry to see her go.
``I would like to acknowldge the outstanding service Noeline has given during her time with Kia Magic in fashioning an outstanding record which speaks for itself,’’ Wiltshire said.
An immensely popular figure, Taurua is just one of two coaches, along with Jane Woodlands-Thompson (Adelaide Thunderbirds), who have survived the duration of the ANZ Championship, which was launched in 2008.
As a feeder team for higher honours, Kia Magic has been one of the most successful in New Zealand of elevating players to national age-group and Silver Ferns status.
Before the ANZ Championship, Taurua had five years with its precusor, the domestic National Bank Cup competition, winning the 2005 and 2006 titles.
Innovation has been Taurua’s hallmark, her creativity and ability to think outside the square being major drawcards in keeping her players interested and challenged. The only team to make the play-offs every year, the crowning glory being last year’s breakthrough ANZ Championship title win, the colourful coach has experienced all the associated highs and lows inbetween. And now feels the time is right to move on.
``This is my 11th year in this environment which is a long time,’’ she said. ``I’m thankful for the support that I’ve had and the many fantastic people I’ve been involved with over this time.’’
Taurua has no firm plans for the future but will continue with the three-year Coach Accelerant Programme, run by High Performance Sport New Zealand, which she was accepted for this year.
``I’ve developed a particular set of skills and abilities in high performance sport over my coaching tenure,’’ she said. ``I am excited by the opportunity of new challenges, to apply these tools of the trade to another environment, be that another sport, business or even another netball setting.
``I haven’t really thought too far ahead apart from finishing the season dominantly with Kia Magic and I’m confident opportunities will present in good time.’’
The search is set to start immediately to find Taurua’s replacement.
``We appreciate this was a difficult decision for Noeline and acknowledge her efforts in helping with the transitional phase,’’ Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone CEO Tim Hamilton said.
``We are now committed to working through the process in selecting the best coach to take Kia Magic through the future years.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Kia Magic lose out to impressive Steel
Kia Magic’s hopes of defending their ANZ Championship title have nosedived after losing 65-58 to an impressive Southern Steel in Invercargill on Saturday.
The result ensured Steel leapfrogged Kia Magic into fourth place as the southerners recorded their fourth straight win in a row for the first time since 2010.
Very tidy and efficient throughout, a decisive second quarter proved influential for Steel as they powered away from Kia Magic with a commanding 10 minutes of netball. With three-quarters of the match close and tight, Kia Magic will look back and rue their poor second quarter efforts where they coughed up too many turnovers to leave their title defence looking decidedly shaky.
Kia Magic fought hard to pull back a nine-goal halftime deficit but came up short against a well-drilled and accurate Steel team in posting their fourth loss for the season.
The southerners presented with a predictable and settled line-up while Kia Magic opted to start with Ellen Halpenny at goal attack, Jess Tuki, wing attack, and Elias Shadrock, wing defence.
There was little to separate the teams in a free-flowing and high-scoring opening stanza. Respective goal attacks, Jodi Brown, for Steel, and Halpenny, for Kia Magic, were influential figures with key targets Jhaniele Fowler and Irene van Dyk well contained.
Halpenny stepped up impressively, taking on the bulk of the shooting while Brown was equally impressive for the home team. The 1.98m Fowler had to work hard for her keep, Kia Magic defenders Leana de Bruin and Casey Kopua keeping her relatively quiet early on.
There were few opportunities in a tight opening, Kia Magic just nosing in front to lead 18-16 at the first break.
The arm wrestle continued on the resumption as the pair continued to go toe-to-toe on the back of good service into the circle. With the tempo lifting, it was Steel who broke the game open.
Edging into the lead, Steel took off with a memorable second quarter as they powered to a commanding position. Captain Brown was a towering figure with her all-round general play, showing her mastery with her feeding skills, shooting accuracy and ability to direct play.
Steel attackers Courtney Tairi and Phillipa Finch found Fowler with more regularity as the long-limbed Jamaican made her presence felt. At the other end of the court, strong pressure from Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick and Rachael Rasmussen helped the home team reel in a steady stream of defensive turnover ball.
Two sets of five-goal unanswered scoring streaks gave all the impetus to Steel, who marched to a decisive lead as Kia Magic faltered.
Looking to stem the tide, Khao Watts (wing attack) and Jodi Tod-Elliott (wing defence) were introduced late in the piece for Kia Magic but it was Steel who stormed to a 38-29 lead at the main break.
There was plenty of intent from Kia Magic on the restart, four unanswered goals putting them right back into contention as momentum swung back and forth during the third stanza.
There was no lessening of intensity, precision passing through court with the finishing touches provided by Brown and Fowler conspiring to keep Kia Magic at bay. Both teams had their moments, the visitors holding the slight edge to outpoint Steel by two goals but their cause not helped by Halpenny’s drop in accuracy.
As a result, Steel held on to handy 50-43 heading down the home straight.
The slightly build Jess Waitapu replaced Halpenny for the last quarter as Kia Magic closed to within four goals in the opening minutes but Steel’s composure, staunch defence and finesse of Fowler ensured the home team a defining win.
Kia Magic look to keep shifting in the right direction
Press Release May 16, 2013
Captain Laura Langman is hoping a momentum shift and quick turnaround will work in Kia Magic’s favour for Saturday’s all-important ANZ Championship netball contest against Southern Steel in Invercargill.
With both teams equal on points, Kia Magic have a tenuous hold on fourth place on the ladder courtesy of goal percentages from their southern rivals as the pair vie to be the top New Zealand franchise.
After a stuttering campaign to date, Langman is not getting carried away but was buoyed by the progress made in Kia Magic’s come-from-behind four-goal win over Central Pulse in their latest outing.
``We certainly broke through some stubborn ground that had been lingering a little bit which was really heartening but the reality is we still have a long way to go,’’ she said.
``We did get thumped by the Thunderbirds (10 days ago by 12 goals) so to be really competitive against all teams we’ve still got a lot of work in progress. But it was certainly a good shift in the right direction.’’
With much attention focused on their inconsitent attack line, there were improved signs for Kia Magic against Pulse, particularly in the second half where goal attack Ellen Halpenny stepped up to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load ahead of Irene van Dyk while Khao Watts also added impetus from wing attack.
``It was good game for our combination confidence as a whole,’’ Langman said. ``From a team point of view, we played much more unit-focused rather than just as individuals working for themselves. That was the really heartening outcome.’’
With Jess Tuki coming back from a five-week injury lay-off, Kia Magic also now have a strong depth of options. While Tuki was a little rusty at times against Pusle, she will be better for the run and adds strength to the overall team base.
``I thought the changes we made in the Pulse game were noticeable,’’ Langman said. ``It’s not saying someone’s having a bad game, it’s purely a change of dynamics and chemistry. And sometimes that’s all we’re after.’’
Langman has been impressed with Steel’s efforts to date, the southerners winning their last three games with their proficiency on attack and defence, the tactical brain of captain Jodi Brown and the finishing prowess of their shooter Jhaniele Fowler, the league’s tallest player at 1.98m.
The Jamaican import has been a revelation in her first season, her height and accuarcy playing a leading hand in Steel’s success.
``They have been going really well and are a team that have been flying under the radar a bit,’’ Langman said. ``They’ve got Jhaniele under the hoop which is a huge asset for them and Jodi has very much been acting as that third feeder for them, so that’s going to present a good challenge.
``We’ll probably have to change our defensive strategy and focus for this week but on attack it will be buisness as usual.’’
Comparing the Steel’s style as similar to Pulse’s in terms of their zone-type defence, Langman is hoping their previous outing has given them enough of a heads-up and preparation to counter it.
The fleet-footed Langman, who was at her industrious best against Pulse, is not concerned by the short four-day turnaround between matches for Kia Magic.
``If anything it keeps the clip up,’’ she said. ``Gaining momentum from the Pulse game, hopefully we can carry that same energy into the Steel game and it could work in our favour.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Storming finish gets Kia Magic home against Pulse
Kia Magic were forced to dig deep before repelling a spirited Central Pulse 53-49 in Hamilton on Monday.
The home team showed plenty of character to come from behind with a forceful second half to gain their revenge against Pulse who prevailed in the first showdown by a solitary goal two weeks ago.
In an important game for both teams, the win cemented fourth spot on the table for Kia Magic, patience paying off after a patchy first half during which plenty of opportunities were squandered.
Kia Magic presented with a new-look attack line, Jess Tuki starting at wing attack after six weeks out with an elbow injury while Ellen Halpenny got the nod at goal attack. For Pulse, Joline Henry made her first start of the season at wing defence after taking time to come back from the birth of her baby and injury.
Kia Magic had several opportunities in the opening exchanges but were unable to convert their turnover ball. The visitors were more efficient on attack with experienced shooters Donna Wilkins and Caitlin Thwaites providing the accuracy under the hoop.
Errant passes cost Kia Magic valuable possession, helping Pulse finish the stanza strongly as they hit the first break with a 15-11 advantage.
Impressive defensive pressure from Pulse caused Kia Magic more problems on the resumption as the home team struggled with their distribution in the attacking third. The pace picked up considerably with both teams exhibiting some thrilling individual skills as the contest heated up. With Irene van Dyk well contained under the hoop, Halpenny stepped up with a much more forceful second stanza to shoulder the bulk of the shooting duties.
Kia Magic pegged the deficit back to two as defenders Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin got their hands on more turnover ball but a controlled Pulse continued to hold them at bay. Intelligent feeding from Liana Leota and Camilla Lees gave Wilkins and Thwaites every opportunity to build at 29-24 lead at the main break.
Kia Magic made two replacements for the second half with the experienced Jodi Tod-Elliott taking over from Elias Shadrock at wing defence and import Khao Watts picking up the wing attack bib from Tuki. For the Pulse, Victoria Smith replaced Henry.
Initially, it was Pulse who prospered as they bolted out to a seven goal lead, the home team finally making their move in the latter stages of the stanza with a thrilling fight-back which broke the game open. Workhorse captain Laura Langman was in the thick of action, her connections with van Dyk on attack being pivotal while also helping shore up a stiffer defensive resolve.
As the pressure mounted, errors crept into Pulse’s game helping Kia Magic eat into the deficit to give the home team a launching pad. While Pulse became a little static on attack, it was a different story for Kia Magic who got sharper as the game wore on with their movement and accuracy. Van Dyk became a lot more involved while Halpenny continued to feature strongly as Pulse held on to a tenuous 39-38 lead at the last break.
The outcome hung in the balance through a tense and action-packed run to the line, Kia Magic’s confidence growing as they came home with a rush. A turnover from Tod-Elliott propelled Kia Magic into the lead for the first time with 5-1/2 minutes remaining, Pulse folding under the pressure as the home team finished in style by scoring the last five goals.
Kia Magic spirits high for Pulse rematch
Press Release May 9, 2013
Back-to-back losses have not dented Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua’s faith ahead of her team’s important ANZ Championship netball rematch with Central Pulse in Hamilton on Monday.
With the season at a critical stage and clinging to fourth spot on the table courtesy of goal differential, banking the two points on offer against Pulse presents a timely opportunity for the home team to steady the ship.
Found wanting by an impressive Adelaide Thunderbirds to the tune of 12 goals in their latest outing and dipping out to Pulse by a solitary goal two weeks ago, Taurua insists the defending champions are far from hitting desperation stakes.
``Contrary to what others may be thinking, spirits are good, we’re clearer on what we need to do and that’s what we’re working towards,’’ she said.
``We take the losses on the chin and our weaknesses but the desire to be better is definitely there and that’s very uplifting.’’
There will be no major shift in tactics for the Pulse match, the two key objectives being control and absorbing pressure through simple play. With Jess Tuki also back in the mix after recovering from an elbow injury, Taurua has the option of shoring up her wobbly attack line.
``Having the option of bringing Jess Tuki back into the fold will change the chemistry and our firepower in regards to our frontline attack,’’ she said.
``It’s definitely not about making huge changes at the moment. If we have to go into that, then we’re really into negative mode.’’
Despite a sizzling start, Kia Magic could not absorb Thunderbirds reply, the home team’s sustained pressure highlighting worrying signs on attack for the visitors. Key strike weapon Irene van Dyk had the rare occurrence of being kept scoreless during the third stanza before seeing out the remainder of the game from the bench.
Individually, Taurua acknowledges her attackers were exposed with their inability to execute under pressure but is confident the problems are fixable and has no doubts about her 40-year-old’s value.
``I have a huge amount of faith in Irene,’’ she said. ``We’ve been together for a very long time and to have a track record of only being taken off for two 15-minute quarters in 10 years is phenomenal.
``She takes those sorts of things on the chin, goes away and takes a good look at how she can be better and improve her game. The skills that she has is the reason why she has been in the game so long at this level.
``Also because she is so good, everyone she comes up against targets her and wants to put the best game that they possibly can against her. That’s the measure of her, she’s long been the benchmark of excellence and that has just increased opponents’ desire to lift their performance and come with their A game.
``I have got utter belief in her. It’s one of those things that happens in sport…..we take it on the chin and move on.’’
In her defence, van Dyk was not helped by the rest of the attack line failing to function as a unit.
``There’s trends that I’m starting to see in terms of our structures and patterns and we can fix it,’’ Taurua said.
``Just because you’ve lost last week doesn’t mean the circumstances are the same for this week, so it just goes into the back pocket of all the new learnings that you’re having and trying to be better equipped for the next time. That’s all you can wish for.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Magic rolled by impressive Thunderbirds
Over-run 45-33 by a rampant Adelaide Thunderbirds highlights plenty of soul-searching ahead for Kia Magic who slumped to their second successive defeat in Adelaide on Monday.
There was also the worrying sign for Kia Magic of shooting great Irene van Dyk seeing out the match from the bench. A forgettable third quarter during which van Dyk was kept scoreless meant a shooting reshuffle in a desperate late bid to regain some momentum.
But after a sizzling start, the visitors could not reproduce their early form, eventually being subdued by a masterly second half from Thunderbirds which reduced the visitors to a below par 68 percent shooting return.
The result rocketed Thunderbirds into top spot on the table while Kia Magic retained a tenuous hold on fourth spot courtesy of goal percentage.
Jess Waitapu got the nod to start for Kia Magic at goal attack while import Khao Watts donned the wing attack’s bib in front of her home crowd. There were no surprises in the well-performed Thunderbirds line-up of recent weeks, captain Natalie von Bertouch welcomed back after missing the previous week with injury.
With four Silver Ferns in Kia Magic’s team and five Diamonds and a Jamaican international in the opposition, the match lived up to the spread of talent on show with its sheer intent and willingness from start to end.
The visitors got off to a flyer, the speed and accuracy on transition matched by a smothering defensive wall. With captain Laura Langman ruling through the midcourt and van Dyk at her clinical best under the hoop, Kia Magic reeled off eight unanswered goals to power out to an early 9-2 lead.
Stunned by Kia Magic’s intensity, Thunderbirds struggled at both ends with their transition before working their way back and pegging back the deficit.
Jamaican import Carla Borrego found her range under the hoop, the 1.93m shooter keeping her team in the hunt as the home team made a great recovery to ensure Kia Magic’s lead was trimmed to a narrow 13-12 at the first break.
It was Thunderbirds who reversed the trend on the resumption, upping their intensity and defensive exploits. Midcourters Renae Hallinan and captain Natalie von Bertouch did a sterling job of slowing Kia Magic’s drive on attack and keeping the dangerous Langman under wraps.
Goal attack Erin Bell found her confidence in Thunderbirds goal circle, proving a great ally for Borrego, who continue to produce a compelling performance. Play turned scrappy as a real arm wrestle ensued before the home team nudged ahead as their defensive pressure began to tell.
In a rare occurrence, van Dyk got the wobbles, uncharacteristically missing three goals during the stanza as Thunderbirds eased into a 22-20 halftime lead.
Ellen Halpenny made her entrance for the second half in place of Waitapu but Kia Magic’s woes continued in a disastrous third quarter after both teams made frantic starts. With the ball swinging wildly back and forth, it was Thunderbirds who grabbed control, scoring five in a row to break clear.
Thunderbirds in-circle defenders Sharni Layton and Rebecca Bulley produced a brilliant display of tight and suffocating marking to shut a rattled van Dyk out of the game as the visitor’s key weapon was kept scoreless for the quarter. The home team effectively dismantled Kia Magic’s game while delivering an efficient and effective product on attack.
Borrego and Bell could do little wrong under the Thunderbirds hoop, potting most opportunities that came their way as they out-pointed Kia Magic 13 goals to six for a decisive 35-26 lead at the last break and forcing their opponents to make dramatic changes for the run home.
Back to basics for Kia Magic
Press Release May 2, 2013
Polishing up on the basics has been a key focus for Kia Magic ahead of their ANZ Championship netball showdown against the table-topping Thunderbirds in Adelaide on Monday.
A tense one-goal loss to Central Pulse in the latest outing, their second of the season, has left Kia Magic seriously in need of a win to retain a spot in the top four.
Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua has no major overall concerns but the tight contest against Pulse highlighted how the smallest of indescretions can come back to bite.
``There’s little things in regards to trying to control our momentum, the flow of the game better,’’ she said.
``There was a moment in the third quarter where we were up by five and a clump of errors all in a row put us on the backfoot. It also happened straight after a time out, so we just have to look at how we deal with that sort of situation strategically.
``There were a number of small things but things which have a huge impact as to the overall performance, so we have been working on those this week.’’
Despite the loss, Taurua considered the game a step-up from the previous week.
``I thought it was a great game and one that could have gone either way,’’ she said. ``There was improvement across the court, so I’m happy with that. But it’s a matter of continuing to work hard, keeping our knitting tight, maintaining discipline and sticking strong as a team.
``We didn’t come away with the two points but there was a lot of pleasing points to come from it.’’
Thunderbirds have enjoyed a spectacular fortnight in chalking up gutsy back-to-back one-goal wins over the previously unbeaten Melbourne Vixens and Queensland Firebirds. Taking on the high-flyers in their own backyard presents a daunting mission for Kia Magic.
Statistically and performance-wise there are a lot of similarities in how Kia Magic and Thunderbirds play the game, the pair traditionally enjoying free-flowing and willing contests. For Tuarua, the emphasis is about getting their own house in order rather than looking at ways to dismantle Thunderbirds firepower, defence being a priority.
``We’ve got to sort our own strategies out, be more connected defensively and not get ourselves isolated from each other,’’ she said. ``Irrelevant of the opposition, that’s a clear area that we need to sharpen up on.’’
Pulse may have done Magic a favour by giving them a searching examination over 60 minutes, their most intense of the season. Taurua believes lessons have been learnt but is aware of what lies in wait in Adelaide.
``They’ve had two hard games in the last two weeks and have come out on top which means their ability to execute under pressure has been amazing,’’ she said of the Thunderbirds.
``They have won by coming from behind, so they’re tenacious, defensively strong and have a balance between Erin Bell out the front and Carla Borrego at the back which provides two shooters who can spread the load.’’
Midcourter Jess Tuki temains on Kia Magic’s injured list, still recovering from a broken bone in her elbow, but is targeting a return for the rematch against Pulse on May 13.
Kia Magic media liaison
Magic come up short against Pulse
In a game where fortunes ebbed and flowed throughout, Kia Magic were pipped 53-52 by a fast-finishing Central Pulse in Wellington on Sunday.
Kia Magic had their opportunities to stake a claim but at times lacked fluency on attack and composure in the heat of battle, the Pulse showing they have learnt from a couple of similar outings this season when on the losing end.
The result consigned Kia Magic to their second loss of the season during which they have also posted three wins. It doesn’t get any easier with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty team heading to Adelaide next Monday and an outing against the in-form Thunderbirds.
For the Pulse it ended a 10-game losing streak against Kia Magic as they chalked up their first-ever win over the defending champions while also getting their campaign for a play-off spot back on track.
No more than four goals separated the teams throughout in a tight and absorbing contest, Pulse holding the slight edge with their accuracy and patience to deliver safe ball. They were well served by the classy shooting combination of Caitlin Thwaites and Donna Wilkins who hardly put a foot wrong all night.
With Joline Henry ruled out through injury, Victoria Smith got the nod at wing defence for Pulse while goal attack Ellen Halpenny got her first run-on start for Kia Magic as both teams opted for tried and true line-ups.
There was nothing to separate the teams in a tight and evenly contested opening stanza, good service from respective wing attacks Liana Leota for Pulse and Kia Magic’s Khao Watts giving their respective shooters plenty of well-created opportunities.
The instinctive rapport between Thwaites and Wilkins was a highlight early on while Kia Magic were forced to exhibit patience on attack when trying to breech the tight defensive screen employed by the home team.
Turnovers were few and far between, Kia Magic holding a slight edge to nose into the first break with a narrow 13-12 lead.
There was little change on the resumption, Pulse impressing with their patience and ball security while waiting for the openings. Conversely, Kia Magic were not so fluent, struggling with their transition in their attacking zone on the back of strong defensive efforts from Smith and Millie Lees.
Safe and error-free netball helped the home team hit the front momentarily before Kia Magic flexed their considerable defensive muscle with Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin putting the squeeze on Pulse’s shooters. The pressure caused a slight shift in momentum towards Kia Magic, Halpenny showing a cool head to nail some big points while Irene van Dyk was being double-marked.
Both Thwaites and van Dyk recorded a perfect 15 shots from 15 attempts in a first half of high accuracy in which all shooters excelled, Kia Magic reclaiming the lead for a slim 28-27 advantage at the main break.
Daya Wiffen took over at wing defence for the second half for Pulse but it was Kia Magic who made the first decisive move during a momentum swinging third stanza. Showing their ability to score quickly, the visitors hit the ground running, surging out to a four-goal advantage after five minutes. Captain Laura Langman led the charge with her work on transition while Kopua and de Bruin got their hand on more turnover ball.
Just as quickly fortunes changed, Pulse’s defensive duo of Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit causing some wobbles in Kia Magic’s attacking line. With the impetus with them, Pulse reeled off five straight goals in providing another dramatic twist, the home team taking a 41-40 lead into the last break.
The excitement levels remained high during a thrilling run to the finish line during which the lead changed hands several times. Pulse got the decisive jump three minutes from the end, a three-goal buffer helping them hold on for a timely win.
Kia Magic defender ready to raise the bar
Press Release April 25, 2013
Struggling to hit her own high expectations, Kia Magic defender Leana de Bruin is looking to change all that in Sunday’s ANZ Championship netball showdown against Central Pulse in Wellington.
A proven performer under pressure, the Silver Ferns defensive rock is relishing the chance to lock horns with Caitlin Thwaites and Donna Wilkins, Pulse’s dynamic shooting duo.
Frustrated with her start to the season for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty team, the veteran defender is at her bullish best in challenging situations and is looking forward to the upcoming clash as the perfect opportunity to raise the tempo.
``I think they’re phenomenal,’’ de Bruin said of the Pulse shooters.
``The get some amazing ball to each other and just that faith they have in each other that they will be in the right place at the right time. They’ve got guts those girls and just as a combination, they’re getting stronger and stronger.
``At the same time, that’s what we like…..we like challenges like that. I’m really looking forward to the game and the challenge those two will present, that’s what we thrive under.’’
Pulse have assembled an impressive line-up this season, their motivation certain to be heightened following an unlucky one-goal extra time loss to Northern Mystics in the last round.
Kia Magic had their momentum stalled by a lack lustre loss to West Coast Fever two weeks ago followed by a bye. Returning to action with a 20-goal win over Canterbury Tactix in the latest round, however, did not leave the defending champions entirely happy.
``It’s quite frustrating at the moment because the flow we usually have on attack is not quite there yet,’’ de Bruin said. ``I’m not happy with my own performance. The Tactix game was a little bit of a step-up for me and I got a little more involved in deflections and stuff.
``I’ve been a bit quiet the first three games….I want hand on ball and I’m not getting enough hand on ball at the moment which is a little bit frustrating. You try really hard to analyse stuff and I think sometimes you can try too hard, so I just want to go back to enjoying myself because that seems to be when I play my best.’’
The de Bruin-Casey Kopua defensive combination has not reached the impressive heights of last year which has added to the frustration. De Bruin said there were glimpses against the Tactix and is confident the wheel is turning, patience being the key.
``It’s just a matter of everybody fronting up on the day,’’ she said. ``We are the type of team who can perform when we’ve got our backs to the wall and I don’t doubt Pulse will put us under pressure.
``I am looking forward to seeing our product out there because to date we haven’t nailed things exactly as we would have wanted. It’s going to be a great battle but at the end of the day, it’s going to be, not really so much who wants it the most because both teams will want it as bad as the other, but who keeps their heads.’’
As for Pulse’s passionate and supportive home crowd, that won’t faze de Bruin
``For me personally, I love that atmosphere and it brings the best out in me,’’ she said. ``That’s when I enjoy it most, when you know you’re in a tough battle and you know you’ve got an extra player on the court with the crowd involvement. It’s not intimidating at all, I love it and it’s great for the game.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Kia Magic return to winning ways
Veteran shooter Irene van Dyk was back to her efficient best as Kia Magic posted a comprehensive 65-45 win over Canterbury Tactix in Tauranga on Monday.
Having to cool their heels for two weeks since going down to West Coast Fever in their last outing, Kia Magic couldn’t wait to make amends. Restricted to just 15 goals against Fever, van Dyk led the charge with a perfect 38 goals from 38 attempts. She was well supported by the ever-improving Ellen Halpenny who returned a confident 21 from 25 after playing three-quarters of the match.
It wasn’t always clinical from Kia Magic but it proved a productive outing in clearing the cobwebs after their bye weekend and setting a platform for the road ahead in clinching their 12th successive win and continued unbeaten run over the southerners.
Jess Waitapu, still feeling the effects of a heavy knock received in the Fever match, got the nod at goal attack while coach Noeline Taurua opted to switch her Silver Ferns defensive pairing with Casey Kopua going to goalkeeper and Leana de Bruin to goal defence.
Jane Watson assumed the goalkeeper’s role ahead of an injured Zoe Walker for Tactix and Sophia Fenwick the goal attack’s bib ahead of Julianna Naoupu.
Solid Tactix defence kept Kia Magic in check early on, the visitors’ back three stalling the free flowing attacking style enjoyed by the home team. However, little errors proved their undoing, Kia Magic pouncing and pushing into a position of control when leading 18-9 at the first break.
Halpenny took over from Waitapu on the resumption where both teams were guilty of messy starts. It was a particularly stuttering stanza from Kia Magic who progressed in fits and starts, unable to find their timing. Kopua, de Bruin and Elias Shadrock provided plenty of hustle and bustle on defence to pick up a numerous intercepts and deflections but many were lost in the transfer through court.
Tactix could not fully capitalise, hesitancy slowing their attacking drive while danger shooter Jo Harten was well contained by Kia Magic’s in-circle defenders, the crack shot being restricted to just nine goals in the first half. But it was the visitors who chipped away, managing to outpoint an inconsistent Kia Magic by a solitary goal during the second quarter. Out by as much as 10 goals at one stage, Kia Magic eventually rounded out the half holding a 31-23 lead.
Mt Albert Grammar old girl Nadia Loveday made her first appearance at this level for Kia Magic in the second half, taking over from Khao Watts at wing attack, the teenager getting the immediate seal of approval with an assured and confident outing.
Kopua and de Bruin switched back to their more familiar roles as Kia Magic cranked up another gear in the second half. The pair along with Shadrock provided a relentless defensive screen in blanking out Tactix scoring opportunities.
At the other end van Dyk and Halpenny piled on the points, the combination growing impressively as Kia Magic went on to out-score their opponents 18-8 to take a firm grip on proceedings and a commanding 49-31 lead at the last break.
Play loosened up during the fourth quarter with the action see-sawing back and forth for long passages, each team having their moments. Kia Magic were never seriously threatened but Tactix were left to rue their high turnover rate – 35 for the match – which put them on the back foot throughout.
Mental focus key for Kia Magic
Press Release April 18, 2013
Attitude will be as important as fitness when Kia Magic front for their return ANZ Championship netball match-up against Canterbury Tactix in Tauranga on Monday.
Kia Magic have had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds after their 14-game winning run was snapped by a tenacious West Coast Fever in round three. Rattled by a willing Fever challenge, Kia Magic lurched a long way from their game plan, a situation from which they hope valuable lessons have been learned.
``While we lost there were a lot of positives that came out of that game and it’s now up to us to see if we have actually learnt from it and take the next step,’’ Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua said.
``The timing of what happened coupled with the bye has turned out perfectly……we’ve had time to think about it and now it’s time to start putting things into action, moving on and looking forward to Tactix.’’
Turua expects a different game from the round one clash four weeks ago where Magic posted a handsome 23-goal winning margin. Both teams have gained further traction since then, the improving Tactix, in particular, taking successful strides in becoming a more settled and competitive unit.
``Mentally we’ve got to be ready for this game, our attitude has to be very good, not getting caught up in the hype of things and just getting out there and playing a good level of netball,’’ Taurua opined ahead of the showdown.
Tactix opened their campaign with three hefty losses before outlasting the Northern Mystics in a marathon double overtime two-goal win for their first success of the season in their latest outing.
``They’re a solid team and every time they’ve gone out, they’ve shown areas of improvement across the whole court,’’ Taurua said. ``Playing the extra time game against Mystics, they’ve shown their fitness levels are high and they will be buoyed by the win. I’ve been impressed with what they’ve put out there.’’
Kia Magic have predominantly looked inward in the lapse between games, the major focus being on sticking to the processes they believe will bring success.
``We were given a friendly reminder in the Fever match not to get caught up in what the opposition is trying to do to us,’’ Taurua said. ``We were handed a lesson and I want us to get out there and concentrate on the consistency of performance we want to produce.
``The quality of how Tactix have been playing, their attitude and fitness levels will test us across the court, so from my players I’m looking for that ability to be able to hold and to really control our own product and performance under pressure.’’
The England connection of Jo Harten (shooter) and Jade Clarke (midcourt) has provided greater consistency in the Tactix attacking flow while Harten potted a staggering 63 goals from 67 attempts in her latest outing. At the other end, sheer tenacity has garnered a largely inexperienced defence line plenty of turnover ball.
While her own team is stacked with talent and experience, Taurua has noted the warning signals and is taking nothing for granted in urging Kia Magic to produce an optimal performance against the southerners.
Kia Magic media liaison
Timely break for Kia Magic
Press Release April 11, 2013
Coach Noeline Taurua has welcomed the timing of Kia Magic’s bye this weekend after a reality check and an eventful few days since their latest ANZ Championship netball outing.
West Coast Fever produced the upset of the season to snap Kia Magic’s 14-game winning streak in Perth last weekend and with only three rounds played, the bye, under normal circumstances, would seem to have come too early.
``In hindsight and where we are at the moment, coming out of our Fever match it’s a really good time for us to pull off, refresh and regroup,’’ Taurua said. ``So, in the bigger picture the timing’s perfect and is just a good opportunity to take a breath and time out to smell the roses.’’
The defending champions were seriously off their game against a spirited and lively Fever, a last quarter fightback being the only redeeming feature in a lopsided contest. But the coach is adamant the poor result was not derived from any sense of invincibility or arrogance.
``We are certainly not ego driven,’’ she said. ``We are very disappointed in ourselves with what panned out. Everything, for some reason, was out of kilter, from our training prior to travelling right through to the game. But I think in the long term, it will be good for us…..good lessons have come out it.
``We know if we follow our routines and our processes how well it works but we were just thrown completely out of our normal routines last weekend and that’s our fault.
``We should still have had enough in store to get through that game and it just higlighted areas of weakness and the work we need to do to make sure we keep our base strong. And I’m actually quite pleased that has all come out at this stage of the comeptition.’’
Having a light training load this week, Taurua will increase the intensity next week where she believes minor tweaking rater than major overhaul is all that’s required ahead of Kia Magic’s clash with Canterbury Tactix on April 22.
While midcourter Jess Tuki remains sidelined with an elbow injury, Jess Waitapu is the only other concern, the slightly-build goal attack still suffereing discomfort in the abdominal area after copping a heavy knock during the Fever match.
Kia Magic media liaison
Fever break Kia Magic’s winning streak
Kia Magic struggled to contain a physical West Coast Fever, the Perth based team showing their rising prospects for the second straight week when upsetting the defending champions 57-51 on Sunday.
In a completely dominant performance, Fever broke Kia Magic’s unbeaten 14-game streak while also registering their first ever win over the New Zealand team.
There was a lot to be impressed about with Fever’s play today, the home team building on an excellent defensive effort where persistent contesting paid off. That transferred to the attack end, the confidence rising to an extent where they held sway across all facets.
With Fever powering out to as much as a 16-goal lead during the third quarter, Kia Magic who struggled with their attacking links throughout, made a late bid, going on to play their best netball during the final quarter to peg back the deficit but it was all too little too late.
In a rare move, Kia Magic shooter Irene van Dyk, was damning in her post-match comments and clearly unhappy with the rough-house tactics employed against her.
The normally positive, whether winning or losing, evergreen shooter said it was the most physical match she had ever played in, raising the on-going thorny issue of the differing umpiring interpretations encountered on either side of the Tasman and whether any action will result.
After a great start, it all unravelled for Kia Magic, defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers inspiring a stunning first half for the home team.
Several successful blocks on Kia Magic attempts at goal from the England import helped lift Fever to new levels as they roared into life with a huge swing in momentum. Beckford-Chambers and Josie Janz put huge pressure on the Kia Magic shooting duo of Irene van Dyk and Jess Waitapu, picking off a number of turnovers as the home team went on a 10-goal unanswered scoring spree.
In contrast, Kia Magic could make no impact on attack, Ashleigh Brazil doing a fine job at wing defence in stalling the visitor’s momentum while Verity Simmons delivered a perfect service to Caitlin Bassett under the hoop.
Kia Magic’s woes were further compounded when Waitapu was forced off with injury, her replacement Ellen Halpenny unable to make much difference as Fever skipped out to a 15-9 lead at the first break.
Things got considerably worse for the visitors, who were clearly rattled and unable to sink their goals on the resumption. It was a different story for Fever, veteran campaigner Catherine Cox and Bassett proving unstoppable as they made their opponents pay for a mounting number of turnovers.
Under the pump, Kia Magic could make no inroads, presenting Fever with numerous opportunities from simple errors. The home team made no race of their ability to get crisp clean ball through court with a seamless supply to the shooters.
Reducing Kia Magic to just a 61 percent success rate in the goal circle, Fever were riding high at 85 percent with Bassett recording a perfect 17 from 17. The usually successful and reliable van Dyk was reduced to just seven goals from 10 attempts for Kia Magic as Fever waltzed into the main break well placed at 29-19.
There was no halting the Fever momentum during the third stanza, the outstanding Beckford-Chambers having a hand in everything as she continued to create havoc in the Kia Magic circle. Try as they might, the visitors could do nothing to arrest the carnage.
Winning the possession battle, Fever dominated across the court, their confidence sky-high as Cox and Bassett were seamless under the hoop. Kia Magic struggled mightily in their own goal circle, unable to convert their opportunities on the back of too many basic errors.
Fever remained rampant, building on their slick transition and an abundance of ball to march to an imperious and match-winning 45-31 lead at the last break.
Injury blow for Kia Magic
Press Release April 5, 2013
Injury has ruled midcourter Jess Tuki out of contention for Kia Magic’s ANZ Championship netball clash against West Coast Fever in Perth on Sunday.
A heavy fall during training yesterday (Thursday) resulted in Tuki fracturing a small bone in her elbow.
Now sporting a cast, Tuki will travel with the team to Perth today and is expected to be out of action for 3-5 weeks. Kia Magic have opted not to replace Tuki for Sunday and will go into the game with a match-day 11 instead of the usual 12.
Showing impressive form in Kia Magic’s opening two games, the lofty wing attack suffered a similar blow last year when a back injury forced her to the sidelines for several weeks.
``I’m really disappointed for Jess,’’ coach Noeline Taurua said. ``She’s worked really hard and was starting to look very good.
``I look forward to her coming back strongly and in the meantime, where possible, she will still take an active part in our trainings.’’
Kia Magic media liaison
Challenging road trip for Kia Magic
Press Release April 3, 2012
Aware of the pitfalls, Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua has set out to cover all bases in preparation for Sunday’s ANZ Championship netball showdown with West Coast Fever in Perth.
Many teams have fallen foul on the back of the long road trip to the competiton’s most isolated outpost, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic mentor, however, upbeat about the unique set of challenges it presents.
``They are very hard (to play) on their home ground. Every time we’ve gone over there, we’ve gone toe-to-toe and only been able to pull ahead in the last 5-10 minutes,’’ she said.
Both teams impressed in their latest outings, Kia Magic making it two from two with a decisive 26-goal win over the NSW Swifts while Fever hit 80 in their 27-goal mauling of the Northern Mystics.
The change in time zones, the long flight, and Fever’s return to form have all conspired to keep Kia Magic grounded.
Despite being so far from home, there are some positives, the New Zealand teams enjoy a strong following in Perth from the large numbers of Kiwis who live there.
The different umpiring interpretations caused some consternation for the Swifts in New Zealand but Taurua is not expecting any similar concerns when Kia Magic line up alongside two Australian umpires for the first time this season.
``We’re very aware of what’s more than likely going to happen,’’ she said. ``We prepare to expect the unexpected and that’s what we have trained for, not just for this match, but every match.
``Sticking to process and maintaining standards are the key focus and to avoid getting caught up in anything peripheral.’’
Being able to run two different and equally competent attacking combinations, featuring Jess Waitapu (goal attack) and Jess Tuki (wing attack) and then swapping that duo with Ellen Halpenny and Khao Watts has given Kia Magic strong options, variety and healthy competition within the squad.
``It’s new ground for us,’’ Taurua said. ``At this stage it provides us with a bit of a difference and it does change the chemistry out on court which is a positive for us.
``At the moment it’s working and I’m just taking it week-by-week. Everybody is training really hard and putting their hands up. They’re presenting as wanting to be out there on court, so they deserve to get that opportunity. I will keep rolling with it until something changes.’’
While a lot went right for Kia Magic against Swifts, Taurua is still looking to lift the bar.
``The final execution at times could have been better,’’ she said. ``There were still a few things that I would call soft and just lacking a bit of awareness.
``Our base and structures are quite solid, it’s just the fine tuning and that will come as we go along.’’
The coach is not expecting the free-flowing spectacle of their previous two matches but a physical tight contest where they will need to be prepared to work hard throughout for any gains against a rejuvenated Fever.
Kia Magic media liaison
Commanding win for Magic
Kia Magic stunned the NSW Swifts with a commanding 61-35 win at ASB Baypark Arena in Tauranga on Sunday.
In a complete performance with captain Laura Langman leading from the front, Kia Magic introduced a variety of combinations, each slotting in seamlessly as the defending champions dominated throughout.
The match statistics told the story, the Swifts frustration evident as they clocked up a heavy penalty count, 88 to Kia Magic’s 38 while the home team enjoyed 70 attempts at goal to the visitors’ 48.
Kia Magic opted for a relatively inexperienced attack line with Jess Waitapu filling the goal attack role and Jess Tuki, wing attack. For the Swifts, Amorette Wild picked up the goal attack bib ahead of last week’s starter Carla Dziwoki.
With both teams coming off big first round wins, a tight tussle was expected but it was Kia Magic who picked up where they left off, in contrast, the visitors getting away to a stuttering start.
Controlled and measured, Kia Magic made no race of the opening exchanges, the slightly built Waitapu and the lofty Tuki slotting in like veterans as the home team pushed the ball forward with confidence and accuracy. Building on a five-goal buffer, Kia Magic went on the rampage, scoring almost at will as a stunned Swifts struggled for answers.
Kia Magic’s imposing defensive trio lifted their efforts from the previous week to leave the Swifts struggling under the hoop, the combined efforts of Elias Shadrock, Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin helping their team forge an impressive 18-5 first quarter advantage.
There were few surprises when the Swifts were forced to make sweeping changes on the resumption with four personnel or positional changes. The switch of Susan Pratley to goal attack and the introduction of Dziwoki at goal shoot gave the visitors more impetus on attack as they made an improved contribution in the second stanza.
However, the visitors continued to be stymied by a heavy penalty count, especially at the defence end while Kia Magic’s control and pressure paid dividends.
Tuki proved a revelation at wing attack with her variety of feeding while the diminutive Waitapu made an outstanding contribution as Kia Magic wheeled into the main break with a 32-18 lead.
With the introduction of Ellen Halpenny and Khao Watts at goal attack and wing attack, respectively, Kia Magic lost some of their earlier flow, the Swifts doing a solid job at slowing them down during the third stanza.
But there was no let-up at the other end, Kopua and de Bruin providing a destructive defensive wall as the Swifts shooters continued to struggle, the pair picking up plenty of intercept and rebound ball.
Swifts captain Kim Green put in a huge workload as she laboured industriously to lift her team but again it was Kia Magic who held the edge when they headed into the run home with a 45-27 lead as the new combinations found their groove.
In a big personal moment, the league’s youngest player Jamie-Lee Price, daughter of former Australian rugby league representative Steve, made her trans-Tasman debut in the final quarter. The Mt Albert Grammar School pupil slotted in at wing defence with ease as Kia Magic rolled relentlessly on.
Options aplenty for Kia Magic coach
Press Release March 27, 2013
Rewarding players for their off-season efforts has strengthened Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua’s selection hand for Sunday’s ANZ Championship netball clash against NSW Swifts in Tauranga.
Able to field two different attacking lines in the first-round win against Canterbury Tactix, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty mentor is still in the process of getting a grip on the merits of her players in the cut and thrust of the competitive environment.
``I’m in a different mindset now in regards to tinkering,’’ Taurua said. ``Players have put up their hands in regards to their efforts in the pre-season, so it’s giving them the opportunity to see what they’ve got and I’ve never done that in the past. I’m really proud of what individuals have been able to do.
``It’s not tinkering with a starting seven at this stage, it’s really reward for what individuals have done in pre-season and now it’s up to them as to whether they can deliver in real time.’’
With the trans-Tasman component entering the reckoning, the stakes are expected to lift considerably for this match-up after both teams recorded lopsided 23 and 15 goal wins against Tactix and West Coast Fever, respectively.
Whoever fronts for Kia Magic, there will be no radical change in plan for their first encounter against an Australian team and one with which they have shared a close rivalry since the inception of the comeptition.
``Every week we just tweak, there won’t be wholesale changes to our strategies,’’ Taurua said. ``All our pre-season training has hopefully encompassed everything we’re likely to face no matter who the opposition.
``We’ve been working the two for a very long time in regards to whether it’s going to be space marking or pure man-on-man, so for some of them (players) it will be acknowleding the difference and just making sure we’re clear on that.’’
Overall Taurua was pleased with the opening round efforts and resultant statistical analysis, with consolidation and final execution being the main priorities this week. She is mindful of what Swifts will bring to the table after their impressive opening.
``Swifts had a brilliant opening game…..they were on fire and their timing was near-perfect,’’ she said. ``Even though they did have a bit of a lull it didn’t last long, so for us I’m just excited to see how we are placed against a different style and opponents who looked really good the previous week.’’
After a rebuilding year in 2012 when they introduced a new coach and new players, the Sydney-based Swifts finished just out of the money with a fifth-placed finish, knocking off some of the top teams along the way. But now bedded in, they are set to be an entirely different proposition.
Kia Magic media liaison
Dominant opener for Magic
Defending champions Kia Magic made a seamless start to their 2013 campaign with a comprehensive 69-46 win over the Canterbury Tactix in Nelson on Sunday.
It was an emphatic statement from Kia Magic, who reversed their traditional trend of being slow starters as they look to set new standards for the sixth edition of the trans-Tasman competition.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Tactix, the least experienced team in the competition, coming up against the most experienced from Waikato/Bay of Plenty, who had the luxury of being able to field a team with just the one change from last year’s championship-winning line-up.
Kia Magic were able to get a number of players on court, in the first ANZ Championship match to be played in Nelson, part of the Tactix catchment area, and could be well pleased with their first-up efforts.
Making full use of their greater experience, Kia Magic were particularly effective on attack, ageless shooter Irene van Dyk returning a 93 percent success rate with 45 goals from 48 attempts while Laura Langman was her usual industrious self. Pivots Khao Watts and Jess Tuki shared the game as did goal attacks Jess Waitapu and Ellen Halpenny, all having impressive outings.
With Julianna Naoupu moving to the Tactix in the off-season, the slightly built Waitapu filled the vacant goal attack position for Kia Magic in the starting line-up, slotting into the role with ease alongside veteran van Dyk.
The pair often made it look easy in the Kia Magic circle, Waitapu adept at moving the circle to create the openings while not shying away from putting up the shot when required. The irrepressible van Dyk was at her efficient best, in converting any shot that came her way.
Tactix put up a brave opening stanza, England import Jo Harten being a key figure, the lanky international shooter sinking 11 shots from 11 attempts, mostly from distance to keep the southern team in the hunt as Kia Magic went to the first break with a 17-12 lead.
Kia Magic went up a level on the resumption, making the under-pressure Tactix pay for a mounting turnover rate as they rattled in the goals while building a healthy scoreline. The going got tough for the home team as Kia Magic’s experience shone through, the visitor’s rolling relentlessly on while producing a slick and seamless delivery on most occasions.
Kia Magic bolted away to a 19-9 advantage through the second stanza, van Dyk returning a perfect 25 from 25 as the visitors went to the main break well in control at 36-21.
Both teams made changes for the second half, Tactix coming up with four personnel or positional changes while Halpenny got her first outing with her new team, against her old team, and Tuki took over at wing attack from Watts.
There was no respite for the Tactix as Kia Magic stretched the lead to 20 goals, captain Langman leading from the front with her traditional strong driving on attack and links with van Dyk. It remained an uphill battle for the Tactix but England imports Harten and midcourter Jade Clarke had their moments for the losing team.
However, it was a dominant Kia Magic who powered their way to an emphatic 53-33 advantage at three-quarter time.
No looking back for Kia Magic
Press Release March 21, 2013
There will be no looking back for Kia Magic when they open their 2013 ANZ Championship netball campaign against Canterbury Tactix in Nelson, on Sunday.
Last year’s fairytale run to the trans-Tasman title, the first by a New Zealand team, has largely been forgotten as the Waikato/Bay of Plenty side focus their attention on the sixth editon of the competition.
``We haven’t really referred to last year at all, it’s more the media who bring it up, certainly not us,’’ coach Noeline Taurua said.
``Each year is a new year and a new competition. We know we can’t take things for granted, things won’t be the same as last year and we’re are really mindful of that. We know we can’t just rock up and expect things to happen.
``We learnt a lot last year, particularly through our losses in those first four rounds and hopefully we can retain those learnings. Apart from that, this is a whole new year and there’s no looking back.’’
The Kia Magic mentor knows things won’t be plain sailing from day one but is pleased with the team’s preparation during the pre-season and the work that’s gone on in the background.
``We’re ready to go,’’ she said. ``I’m looking forward to just seeing where we’re at and to hopefully get a few glimpses of the things we’ve been working on. The only opportunity you get to test that is in the competitive environment.
``It’s a long competition and I don’t expect to be hitting our straps in game one but I’m excited to be getting on with it and seeing what we’ve got.’’
On the back of the New Zealand squads now being able to carry 14 players, Kia Magic have introduced five new faces this year. They have retained the core of their 2012 winning line-up, including heavyweights Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman, Casey Kopua (nee Williams) and Leana de Bruin.
One significant change is the acquisition of shooter Ellen Halpenny, the former Tactix stalwart likely to come up against her old team-mates in the season-opener. Former Kia Magic goal attack Julianna Naoupu has been ruled out of lining up for her new team while still recovering from a knee injury.
Taurua is pleased with the contrubution from all her newcomers, with none looking out of place and continuing to challenge.
``The most significant thing is that the gap in the team is closing,’’ she said. ``Everybody has worked really hard over the last three months and our fitness levels as a group have risen markedly.
``We know the standard that’s required to perform at this level and anything less won’t be good enough.’’
Tactix have undergone significant changes in personnel in the off-season, boasting seven new players but with England imports Jo Harten and Jade Clarke (formerly Northern Mystics) returning for another season have a good dose of experience in their mix.
Kia Magic have won all 10 previous encounters between the pair and Taurua is looking for another positive result to get their season under way.
``I want to look at the product we deliver on court – physically, mentally, emotionally – that we’re tough, strong and that we can just get out there and play in any environment,’’ she said.
Kia Magic media liaison
Magic prepped for pre-season hit-outs
Press Release February 19, 2013
Attitude and skill execution will be key targets for Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic when they put their form to the test in three ANZ Championship pre-season warm-up netball games this week.
The defending champions meet the Northern Mystics in Auckland tomorrow (Wednesday) and the Central Pulse and the Australian Institute of Sport in New Plymouth, on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
In training since before Christmas, Magic have been playing against themselves and a men’s team for the last three weeks and now have the chance to gauge their progress in ``real’’ terms.
``I’m looking forward to these games and it will be good to see how close or how far we are and also to test some of the stuff we’ve been working on to see if it actually works,’’ Magic coach Noeline Taurua said.
``It’s a good testing time, provides the opportunity to get individuals out there to see where they are at and a chance to look at a variety of combinations.’’
With the three games being Magic’s only formal hit-out ahead of their season opener against Canterbury Tactix in Nelson on March 24, Taurua is keen for everyone to make the most of their opportunities.
The coach couldn’t be happier with the team’s preparation to date, the strong training and work ethics provided by the newcomers affording a seamless transition in working towards the season ahead.
``The thing that I’m really happy with is the level we are at and with all 14 it’s getting harder and harder to see the gaps,’’ she said.
``The new ones have all come in strongly and that’s proved to be one of the successes so far this year where we have reached new standards.
``We’re conscious of looking at the things that worked for us in 2012 but also being in the mindset of not falling into any type of comfort zone and continually being able to push the boundaries, which is both exciting and challenging. We’re doing a lot of new things to keep us stimulated, me included.’’
With Tanya Dearns coming in as assistant coach, there have been some new strategies put in place at the defensive end of the court from the former international, which Taurua hopes to see replicated during the warm-up matches.
All 14 players will get an equal share of court time across the three games, giving Taurua and Dearns the opportunity to size up a variety of combinations.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic media/publicity
Casey ties the knot
A who’s who of New Zealand netball were on hand to watch Kia Magic stalwart Casey Williams exchange vows with her partner of two years lawyer Terry Kopua in December.
``It was a beautiful wedding,’’ Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua said.
``I have known Casey since she was 16 and it was quite sentimental and emotional to see where she’s come. The wedding was real Casey style, low key but done with a great deal of thought and taste.’’
Held at the beautiful setting of The Red Barn, in the Waikato, Williams and her beau embraced their values, backgrounds and future together after exchanging their moving nuptials in front of 150 friends and family. The netball guests included Taurua, Irene van Dyk, Maria Tutaia, Laura Langman, Jenny-May Coffin, Amigene Metcalfe, Erena Mikaere and Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu.
Williams’ six bridesmaids included Silver Ferns Katrina Grant and Joline Henry, Magic players Jess Tuki and Arahi Wall along with her two sisters. Kopua’s strong connection to his Maori heritage was acknowledged by the bridal party’s Maori flax bouquets while he also joined his groomsmen and Kapa Haka group in delivering a stirring haka.
Williams, 27, will now be known as Casey Kopua after officially changing her name.
``I did it as a sign of respect and a symbol of starting our lives together,’’ she said.
Encouraging start for Kia Magic
With her full team assembling for the first time in early January, Kia Magic coach Noeline Taurua couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
``I was very pleased with the conditioning work all of them had done over the break and that includes our Silver Ferns players coming off a tough international season and into their first netball-specific work for a while,’’ she said.
There was no hint of any Christmas/New Year hangover with the players showing encouraging early season intent from the outset.
``This group of players has a good strong work ethic and that really stood out at our first session together,’’ Taurua said.
Lucky break for rookie shooter
Missing out on the Auckland NPC team has proved a blessing in disguise for Kia Magic newcomer Kendra Falefitu.
Gaining a lifeline with Bay of Plenty Gold at the national championships, shooter Falefitu made the most of her opportunities, eventually being chosen with fellow Auckland teenagers Nadia Loveday and Jaime-Lee Price as the youthful new talent being introduced to the Kia Magic ranks.
With squads now able to carry 14 players, Kia Magic were quick to make the investment in the three rookies who will be immersed in the professional environment with a view to keeping the succession plan ticking over.
``My club coach rang and said the Bay team were down a shooter, so I just went down and had a little run around with them at their training,’’ Falefitu said.
The Kia Magic selectors obviously liked what they saw, the 19-year-old left in a state of disbelief with her rapid change in fortunes that now sees her rubbing shoulders with the elite of the sport.
``I was really shocked after the year I had,’’ an understated Falefitu said.
It’s been a whirlwind few months but the former Auckland Girls Grammar student is taking it all in her stride and enjoying the step up.
``The trainings are intense but they’re really fun,’’ she said. ``The girls are real nice and just real welcoming.’’
Watts back for more Magic
After a breakthrough season with the Magic in 2012, Australian import Khao Watts is delighted to be back for a second campaign.
Last year the South Australian rookie, who paid her own way to attend Magic’s final pre-selection trial, continued to blossom after being thrust into the challenging wing attack role.
A prominent contributor in Magic’s run to the ANZ Championship title, Watts couldn’t wait to rejoin the side, touching down in early January and quickly getting reacquainted.
``You don’t realise how much you miss everyone until you come back…..it’s been really lovely spending time with them all again,’’ she said.
We had our first official week of training after the New Year starting on January 7 with everyone looking in good shape and raring to go.’’
With the ability to play all three midcourt positions, Watts is hoping to further develop her growing arsenal at wing attack as Kia Magic look to defend their title in 2013.
``I loved my spot there and would like to go back there this year,’’ she said. ``You always need to keep adding to your toolbox otherwise people will figure you out way too easily, so I’ve been working hard over the off-season to add to that, and really get a better understanding of the wing attack position.’’
Watts will be based with Waikato NPC coach Rebecca Gabel in Hamilton.
2013 Magic squad and new team name unveiled
Press Release November 5, 2012
There was a mix of familiar and new as reigning ANZ Championship netball titleholders Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic launched their 2013 squad today with Kia Motors being confirmed as the team’s major commercial partner.
Magic franchise CEO Sheryl Dawson said there were exciting times ahead concerning the future partnership with Kia.
“We have enjoyed our negotiations with them immensely and can only see positive outcomes from our partnership as we plan our campaign for the upcoming season,” she said.
“We are really looking forward to seeing the squad in action too once their training starts in late November. Our goal is to secure the Championship trophy for another season.”
With nine returning, the team, to be known as Kia Magic in the new season, has a stable look to it while also introducing a handful of youthful new recruits. The retention of Silver Ferns quartet Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman, Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin ensures continuity and an experienced base for Magic.
That is shored up by a solid core from their winning 2012 edition in Elias Shadrock, Jess Tuki, Jess Waitapu, Erena Mikaere and Australian import Khao Watts. The team is also boosted by the return of versatile defender Jodi Tod, who is back after a year out on maternity duty.
Those new to the squad are talented shooter Ellen Halpenny, who makes the move north from the Canterbury Tactix and a trio of youthful talent in the form of Kendra Falefitu (shooter), Nadia Loveday (midcourt) and Jaime Lee Price (defence).
``It’s a really exciting time for us to be naming this group of players,’’ Magic assistant coach Tanya Dearns said.
``In recent years, Magic has probably struggled with finding a consistent depth. There’s been a lot of work done in the last couple of years to build that depth and raise the levels. The plan is to keep building on that and we believe that will happen with this group.’’
Gone from last year are shooter Julianna Naoupu and defender Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick. A strong desire to return home will see the talented Naoupu suit up for the Tactix next year while Tone-Fitzpatrick has headed to the Southern Steel in search of more game time.
With squads being able to carry 14 players this year, up from 12, Magic have been able to invest in three rookies who will be immersed in the professional environment with a view to keeping the succession plan ticking over.
Falefitu is out of Auckland Girls Grammar School and played for Bay of Plenty Gold in this year’s national provincial championships. Loveday, a New Zealand under-21 squad member, and Price come out of the same nursery, Mt Albert Grammar where they are current senior players for the school. Price is the daughter of former New Zealand Warriors rugby league captain and Australian international Steve Price.
“I am really excited about the opportunity for Jaime and can’t wait to see her improve on and off the court,’’ Steve Price said.
``I believe that Magic’s a great place to do that. I have been really impressed so far with the people we have met who are part of the franchise.”
Magic squad 2013:
Leana de Bruin, Kendra Falefitu, Ellen Halpenny, Laura Langman, Nadia Loveday, Erena Mikaere, Jaime Lee Price, Jodi Tod, Elias Shadrock, Jess Tuki, Irene van Dyk, Jess Waitapu, Khao Watts, Casey Williams.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic media/publicity
Top award for Magic CEO
Press Release November 2, 2012
Caught completely off guard, it was a visibly moved Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic netball franchise CEO Sheryl Dawson who scooped the top honour during the Tauranga Business Awards held in Mt Maunganui this evening.
Dawson, who was unaware she had been nominated, headed off a well-credentialed field in winning the Excellence in Business Leadership Award for 2012, the seventh edition of the Tauranga Business NZ Chambers of Commerce Awards.
Thinking she was attending the black tie gala dinner attended by over 500 connected to the business community on behalf of Magic coach Noeline Taurua, who is out of the country, Dawson was stunned by what transpired.
``This has taken me completely by surprise,’’ she said.
``I am both overwhelmed and humbled by it all. It’s a wonderful acknowledgement and I thank all those who were responsible for this fantastic honour.’’
Those in contention for the premier award are a mix of top CEO’s from across Tauranga, with the winner being recognised as a standout member of the business community who also has a strong involvement in the community in general.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby described Dawson as having ``legendary status’’ in the community.
Nominees for Business Leader of the Year are already highly visible, have demonstrated outstanding leadership and are considered successful business people. But it is their involvement in the community that sets them apart by their influence and ability to make a difference.
The candidates are judged by an independent panel, coordinated by a head judge, and consisting of other city leaders, including the mayor, a previous recipient and a New Zealand Chambers of Commerce representative.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Innovative Magic coach gets her reward (Feature)
Press Release July 26, 2012
For her players, the creative streak provided by coach Noeline Taurua was a decisive factor behind Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic’s breakthrough win in the ANZ Championship netball grand final.
Four years of disappointing campaigns had left not just stalwarts Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman and Casey Williams empty-handed but also their popular coach.
Challenged in the extreme, the equally long-serving Taurua embarked on a new course of action when their 2012 looked set to implode four weeks after it had started. From that point, the Magic mentor provided the glue that held things together and kick-started the team’s dramatic 12-week unbeaten run to the grand final.
``This is a massive result for Noels (Taurua),’’ captain Langman said. ``She’s the backbone of our franchise. No campaign is the same from her, she continues to be innovative and we finally got the recipe right.’’
In some ways, the 12-week crusade of just getting her team, against all odds, to the grand final last weekend, was sweeter than lifting the trophy itself.
``I’m really proud and that’s because of the journey we’ve been on,’’ Taurua said.
``To win the ANZ Championship is obviously the pinnacle of the season and we are measured by where we are placed on the table. However, for this team, what we’ve been through is the real highlight. How the girls have held themselves and the character that they have shown, that’s an equal, if not, better feeling.’’
After opening their campaign with a disastrous four-game losing streak, Taurua’s credentials were widely maligned and she was quick to take the initiative. The team had no choice but to look inward, the conclusions cutting across the grain of some long-standing Magic values.
But on court, the dramatic change of mindset was there for all to see, the team going on to produce a better brand of netball than in the four years previous.
``Team culture and our family values have always been one of Magic’s strengths but that doesn’t win you games,’’ Taurua said. ``A performance and winning culture had to be introduced into that mix.’’
Taurua has learnt plenty after five years in the hot seat of the semi-professional era and that accumulated experience was put to good use in what was probably her most difficult season.
The cash-strapped franchise had the smallest support staff of any of the 10 teams and without an assistant coach, Taurua carried a big load. Always accommodating with her time, Taurua provided the entertainment at the pre-match function for sponsors and special guests at home matches. Delivering a speech and question and answer session, the coach would then head back to her team for their pre-match preparation ahead of the game.
``At times it was bloody hard and I wouldn’t recommend it,’’ she said. ``But I knew how it was going to be from the start and that was incorporated into our season plan. In some ways, it was probably one of the things that made us special and really tight as a team unit because we all had to share the load.’’
The affable, easy-going and not always conventional mother of five is a firm favourite with her players and franchise officials. She is the first to acknowledge life can be fickle for a coach but has learnt to live with that.
``Maybe two or three years ago criticism did affect me but it doesn’t any more,’’ she said. ``You’ve got to take the good with the bad but be very clear about what your direction is with the team and where you’re taking them to so that you’re still strong in your own beliefs.
``I’ve grown in that respect, I don’t get emotional now about what other people say. It is part of the territory and part of the learning I’ve been able to come through and get out the other side.’’
Her great drive as a coach is having the opportunity to develop a player as an individual and get them in a place where they can gain higher honours.
``That’s huge and it’s a big buzz for me. And secondly, to win…..the wanting to win and to get better are big draw cards as well,’’ she said.
After five years with Magic at trans-Tasman level and five years in the National Bank Cup competition, it has been a long haul for Taurua to reach the most defining of results. But she remains philosophical of her journey.
``It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master of what you do and this is my 10th year, so I think it’s just been learning from all the experiences I’ve had and that I was really clear about the planning and what I wanted to do this year and really went out to make that happen,’’ she said.
``It doesn’t just happen. You don’t go to university and learn Coaching 101, you only learn that stuff on the job and that’s why you’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad, learn from it and look at how you can better yourself and the team you’re coaching the next year.’’
Animated and demonstrative in her team talks during games, Taurua’s personality regularly bubbles to the surface in the heat of the contest, as attested during the grand final when in an unprecedented move she spent the entire last eight minutes on her feet with the rest of the bench as she willed her team home.
As with the previous 12 weeks, her face told the story after the final whistle, the joy pure and unrestrained.
``Once again, I just think that’s a part of me growing and having the ability to express myself and be confident in myself,’’ she said. ``It’s the same as the players really…we follow along the same lines where you’re not scared to do anything that is seen as out of the norm, that you can be yourself which is defining the values of what we want to be.
``I’m not going to live by double standards just because I’m the coach. I’m not really the sort of person to sit on the sideline like a dead duck and show no expression when inside I’m bursting with expression.’’
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Jubilant Magic secure ANZ champs title
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic continued their fairytale ride to snatch the ANZ Championship with another of their famed fight-backs following a hard-fought 41-38 win over the Vixens in Melbourne on Sunday.
Qualifying in third place for the play-offs, Magic broke a trend from previous grand finals when becoming the first New Zealand team to win the title in the five-year history of the competition. On all other occasions, every team that has won the minor premiership and hosted the grand final has gone on to win the title.
And for the first half, at least, it looked like the Vixens would follow suit today before Magic surged back to notch their 12th successive win in front of a 10,500-strong crowd at Hisense Arena. With a large contingent of Magic supporters in attendance, the win was warmly received as an impromptu haka was performed in front of the delighted team.
Ironically, Magic’s last loss was against Vixens in round four, and it was the home team who had the upper hand during a tight and torrid first half. Defensive pressure won the day, and in the second half it was Magic’s turn with player of the match, Leana de Bruin, in particular, having a storming influence on the final outcome.
With Vixens having the best defensive record in the competition and Magic the third best defensive record, there was no surprise this particular facet would have a major bearing.
However, Magic also possessed the best attacking record in the competition and this, after a torrid struggle, eventually got them home.
As expected, both teams stuck with their tried and true of recent weeks, the Vixens continuing to back the young shooting combination of Karyn Howarth and Tegan Caldwell.
It was a frenetic and intense start to the match, highlighted by blockbusting defence from both teams. There were few openings with every pass fiercely contested, both teams finding a clear path to goal a difficult assignment.
There were opportunities for both teams but early nerves and the unrelenting defensive pressure created plenty of turnovers between each goal circle.
When the ball eventually made it to the respective circles, the shooters struggled against a sea of long-reaching arms and close defensive attention to get it through the hoop as the low scoring 8-7 lead to the Vixens at the first break indicated.
There was a little more flow from both teams on the resumption but the defensive efforts showed no sign of abating. The home team made a strong start and finish to control the second stanza after Howarth found her range after a suffering some earlier wobbles.
Vixens’ defensive trio of Geva Mentor, Bianca Chatfield and Julie Corletto did a sterling job of sewing up Magic shooters Irene van Dyk and Julianna Naoupu to limit their opportunities. De Bruin picked up plenty of rebound ball but the visitors battled with their finishing through court as a late surge by the Vixens helped the home team to a 22-18 lead at the main break.
The physically draining match continued through an equally-willing third stanza as the Vixens maintained their four-goal buffer for most of the 15 minutes. Trading goals with pass-offs, Magic could not breach the home team’s resilience, the Vixens outstanding defence continuing to hold them at bay.
However, Magic got a little sniff of an opportunity late in the piece, winning the quarter by a goal with a vital turnover as Vixens headed to the last break with a 31-28 lead.
Magic defenders Casey Williams and de Bruin ensured the tide turned with a forceful last quarter showing. The classy pair was instrumental in putting the shutters up on the Vixens shooters, snapping up intercept and rebound ball to help the visitors get the match back on level turns.
Van Dyk and Naoupu found their groove under the hoop as the shooting duo finally got the upper hand over the valiant Vixens defenders, their confidence rising as the shots dropped and they edged to the front in the closing stages.
Coaching maestro backs Magic win
Press Release July 19, 2012
Coaching legend Lois Muir has backed Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic’s strong team platform to pull them through against Vixens in Sunday’s ANZ Championship netball grand final in Melbourne.
The long-standing former Silver Ferns mentor has long since hung up her clipboard but remains an astute and well-informed observer. Keeping a close eye on proceedings throughout the trans-Tasman competition, Muir no longer has to deal with the anxieties of a hands-on coach but likes what she has seen from Magic.
Despite an inglorious start to their season and anchored at the foot of the table after four opening losses, Muir did not give up on the wayward Magic. What followed has been an exhilarating and, at times, nerve-wracking, three-month ride to redemption, the week-by-week survival leading to the almost unthinkable, a third trip to the grand final for Magic in the competition’s five-year history.
With Magic losing both their previous grand final chances in 2010 and 2008, and Northern Mystics suffering a similar fate last year, Muir feels the tide of Australian dominance could be about to turn.
``Magic can do it and not because it’s their turn,’’ Muir said. ``It’s never your right to win but they have the material there to do it. It’s within their power and I back them.
``They’ve played so well as a team in recent weeks. They have that x-factor as a team and if they’re beaten on the day, it’s going to be by a very good team.
``I think they’ve done a lot of work. There’s the odd little chink but nobody’s got the perfect team and Magic’s got that unit now that’s worked right through it all. They’re working well as a team and they’re working for each other. That is the key.’’
Muir described Vixens as tough and experienced and that had been a vital factor to their survival during the season. The two teams have exhibited similar qualities at times, both proving strong finishers in tight situations and also having the ability to keep turnovers low. One of the Vixens last-gasp wins came at the hands of Magic in round four, when they came from six goals down to snatch a one-goal win in the dying seconds.
Vixens, who won the major semi-final two weeks ago and with it a week off, believe their lighter workload and home court advantage will be a massive boost in their bid for a second title following their success in 2009.
``Magic have to travel and have played the extra game but when you get out there you forget all that stuff, you forget the crowd aren’t cheering for you…it’s quite good sometimes if they’re not,’’ Muir said.
``People put a lot of emphasis on being in your home environment but by the same token your own critics are also right there on your shoelaces.
``I think Magic are beyond that and I don’t think it matters a stuff to them really. They’re there to do the business and it will have to be a pretty good team to beat them on the day.’’
Magic’s tense ride to secure their place in the grand final was well-highlighted in their last outing when they dug themselves out of a hole to force extra time against Mystics. Given a sniff, they went on to punish their neighbours.
``Magic had a wobble in that last quarter against Mystics but they showed their worth and if they can just drive that competitiveness they had in extra time, they’ll be right,’’ Muir said.
``I’ve got a lot of faith in them, they’re playing very well as a unit, they’re caring for each other and that makes a difference. If they keep that up they’ll be okay.’’
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Magic acknowledge passing of star shooter's mother
Press Release July 17, 2012
The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic dedicated last night’s thrilling win in the ANZ Championship netball preliminary final to the mother of star shooter Irene van Dyk.
Van Dyk received news early yesterday that her mother, also Irene, had passed away in her hometown of Meyerton, South Africa, following a long battle with cancer.
“While it was devastating for me to hear the news, I was comforted to know Mum passed away peacefully in her sleep and that my sister Janita and brother Harry were with her,” van Dyk said.
“I knew Mum would have wanted me to carry on with last night’s game – she has always been a huge supporter of my netball and I wanted to win last night’s game for her.”
Team mates rallied around van Dyk, who slotted the crucial goal in last night’s hard fought match to draw the game 44-all and force the match into extra time. The Magic won the game 57-48 to set up an exciting final against the Vixens in Melbourne on Sunday, where van Dyk will once again take the court before flying out to South Africa on Monday morning.
“I have to see this through and the family back home are also very supportive,” van Dyk said.
Her mother will be buried in Meyerton at the end of next week.
Magic chief executive Sheryl Dawson paid tribute to the composure shown by the 40-year-old goal shoot in last night’s game.
“Irene, as always, was a consummate professional who put her team before all else despite the immense sadness at having lost her Mum,” Dawson said.
“We are so fortunate to be blessed with such a strong and amazing player and we will be doing everything we can to support Irene in the coming days.”
Dawson appealed to the media to allow van Dyk time to grieve with her family as they come to terms with their loss.
Magic make final after extra time thriller
A dominant spell of extra time propelled the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic to a 57-48 win over the Northern Mystics in the ANZ Championship netball preliminary final in Auckland on Monday.
The result, clinched after the teams were all tied up at 44-all at the end of regulation time, booked the Magic a spot in Sunday’s grand final against the Vixens in Melbourne.
The Mystics will look back and wonder how they let this one go. Having gained the momentum through the fourth quarter and looking well in control, the home team gave the Magic a sniff and with a couple of turnovers the visitors had suddenly forced extra time.
From that point, there was no looking back for the Magic, who kept the Mystics scoreless for the first five minutes of the first seven-minute spell of extra time. And from there, there was no way back for the Mystics, the visitors storming to a 13-4 scoring spree during this passage.
The Magic rose to another level, finding their flow on attack, poise under the hoop and staunch defence as they shut the door on the Mystics finals hopes, in the process ending the glittering career of Temepara George on a disappointing note.
As well as playing for a place in the final, Silver Ferns spots were up for grabs and the match-up to find the best team in New Zealand lived up to its billing. There was no quarter given in a match that stayed tight and evenly-fought throughout.
The pressure was on from the first whistle with no easy ball on offer as each pass was fiercely contested. Both goal attacks made strong early impressions, Maria Tutaia in the zone with her radar working at 100 percent efficiency for the Mystics in the opening quarter. Just as impressive was Julianna Naoupu, who showed her ever-growing stature with a polished opening for the visitors.
Tutaia took the bulk of the shooting duties for the Mystics with the competition’s most accurate shooter Cathrine Latu well contained and limited in her opportunities. Tutaia provided the early difference, her play ensuring the Mystics level-pegged as the teams went to the first break all locked up at 12-all.
Upping the pace, the Magic made a strong start on the resumption, rookie wing defence Elias Shadrock picking up valuable turnover ball as the visitors stretched out to a four-goal buffer. The 40-year-old Irene van Dyk continued to show her increased repertoire this season with deft footwork and customary finishing as the visitors looked to steal a march.
However, the aerial skills of Anna Harrison came to the Mystics rescue as she disrupted Naoupu under the hoop, grabbing a clutch of rebound ball to give her team numerous opportunities. The defensive pressure remained a huge factor, both teams suffering at times as the Magic went to the main break with a slim 24-23 lead.
With Latu becoming more involved, the tide began to turn through the third stanza. With Tutaia dishing off pin-point passes to a well-positioned Latu, the Mystics moved into a position of control. At the other end, the Magic battled to penetrate their attacking third as they became increasingly stifled by the home team’s smothering defence.
With George leading the surge on attack, Harrison and Kayla Cullen made life extra tough for van Dyk and Naoupu, the Mystics taking the momentum and a 36-34 lead into the final break.
Assuming control, the Mystics powered out to a five-goal advantage and with the game seemingly in the bag as the Magic faltered under the intense pressure. However, the visitors showed their fighting qualities, finding turnovers of their own before veterans van Dyk and defender Leana de Bruin kept their cool with a priceless goal and steal apiece to force extra time.
Magic well prepped for neighbourly clash
Press Release July 12, 2012
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic’s recent history has them well primed for the crunch meeting with Northern Mystics in Monday’s all-or-nothing ANZ Championship netball preliminary final in Auckland.
Riding high after securing a dramatic one-goal win over Adelaide Thunderbirds in their last outing, the stakes couldn’t be higher as the Magic prepare for a showdown against their wounded neighbours which will take the winner to the grand final a week later against Melbourne Vixens.
On the back of 10 straight wins, Magic have fashioned a game for all seasons in recent weeks which should stand them in good stead. The have managed to secure wins in all variety of manner, their most recent not achieved until the final three minutes, highlighting their ability to both absorb and challenge.
Magic coach Noeline Taurua expects nothing less than another desperate showdown against Mystics, who lost their chance to advance straight to the grand final when subdued 56-50 by the Vixens.
``They’ll throw anything and everything at us,’’ she said. ``There will probably be a lot of change-ups from them which has been one of their strengths this season….having the ability to rotate their bench which changes the chemistry out on court.
``There’s no room for error now….it’s just you either win or you don’t. Whether it’s desperation, the will or whatever it’s going to come out on court and it will be pretty much the same as what we received in the Thunderbirds match.’’
Magic were under the pump for long periods against Thunderbirds, copping the most sustained pressure they have faced all season and with no sign of a breakthrough as the clock ticked down. But perseverance in their key target areas of structure, belief and patience with the ball, discipline and to keep attacking eventually paid off.
``Apart from that second quarter, where we got wasted, the discipline to come back, keep to structure and bide our time was huge,’’ Taurua said.
``For us, it went down to the last three minutes before an opportunity opened up and we ran with it. Three minutes out of a whole game is not much to have in reserve but that in the end that was the difference. That little window of opportunity helped turn the pressure back on Thunderbirds.
``In the bigger picture all these games have been beneficial to us because it’s helped us handle different situations that are thrown out. But it’s also us being in the right mindset that it’s not going to come easily and that you’ve got to make it happen. The players have learnt that and it’s quite powerful.’’
There will be minor tinkering from Magic as they go back to playing the New Zealand style but strategically they will mainly stick with what has served them well in recent weeks.
``We got a lot out of our last game which opened up a number of things we need to work on, which is great from my end as it means we’re not taking anything for granted,’’ Taurua said. ``We still know that we’ve got to be able to put it out on court and make it happen and we want to follow our philosophy of being better than the previous week.’’
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Magic stay alive
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic booked their place in the preliminary final with a nerve-wracking 49-48 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the sudden-death ANZ Championship clash in Hamilton on Monday.
The Magic will meet the Northern Mystics in Auckland next Monday to decide who will meet the Melbourne Vixens in the grand final.
After dominating the first quarter, the Magic spent most of the rest of the match in chase mode after inspired positional switches, whole-hearted defence and exceptional play from shooters Erin Bell and Carla Borrego put the Thunderbirds in a controlling position.
However, the home team bounced back from a second quarter meltdown to keep chipping away. Shooters Julianna Naoupu and Irene van Dyk kept cool heads in the frantic dying stages, the peerless van Dyk producing another perfect outing with 28 goals from 28 attempts to help the Magic to their 10th straight win.
The Magic couldn’t have asked for a better start, seamless on attack with import Khao Watts delivering a quality service to Naoupu and van Dyk, who had almost a free run under the hoop.
With the Thunderbirds key strike weapon, the 1.93m Borrego completely smothered by the relentless defensive pressure exerted by Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin the visitors were on the back foot early on. With the Thunderbirds struggling to penetrate their attacking third, the Magic picked off plenty of turnover ball. Returning a 100 percent success rate with their shooting compared to Thunderbirds 64 percent it was all the Magic as they raced out to a 15-7 first quarter lead.
The tide turned just as quickly on the resumption with the Thunderbirds switching their defensive pairing of Sharni Layton and Rebecca Bulley to goal defence and goalkeeper respectively.
The impact was decisive as Naoupu and van Dyk faced a much sterner challenge under the hoop. The Thunderbirds defenders squeezed the Magic shooters out of their comfort zone while on attack Borrego found her form with a dominant quarter.
Finding more flow on attack and on the back of some quality feeding from Emily Beaton, the willowy Borrego shone in the air as the visitors chipped into the deficit. It was all one-way traffic as the visitors drew level before hitting the main break with a 26-23 lead, completing a remarkable turnaround to outscore the Magic 19-8 in the stanza.
There were no wild momentum swings during a willing an abrasive third quarter, both teams going to-to-toe with neither able to make a decisive move. Borrego remained an influential figure for the Thunderbirds, proving a perfect foil for her fellow shooter Erin Bell who continued to rattle in the goals.
Naoupu and van Dyk were in similar mode at the other end before the Magic got a mini break late in the stanza, three successive goals giving the home team a slight edge through a tight quarter, the Thunderbirds going to the last break with a slim 39-38 lead.
The tension remained through a riveting final run to the line, the Thunderbirds seemingly with one hand on the win when pushing out to a three-goal lead through the outstanding finishing of Bell. With every pass contested and bodies hitting the deck on a regular basis, two decisive turnovers to rookie Magic wing defence Elias Shadrock levelled the scores.
Nosing in front, Magic stayed composed, keeping their hands on the ball as the clock wound down before sealing a dramatic come-from-behind thriller.
Magic ready to lift again, says Williams
Press Release July 5, 2012
Another close examination of their new-found resilience awaits Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in their sudden-death ANZ Championship netball clash against Adelaide Thunderbirds in Hamilton, on Monday.
Finishing third and fourth respectively at the end of the regular season, Magic and Thunderbirds square off in the minor semi-final to decide who will play the loser of the major semi-final between the Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics, in Melbourne on Sunday. The winner of that match moves directly to the grand final.
Clinching a place in the top four has come on the back of nine straight wins for Magic, where each week they have responded to the challenge of having to produce a win to stay in contention.
The risk of mentally easing off after the intense effort required to reach their initial goal, including a decisive 17-goal win over the same opponents two weeks ago, won’t be a factor, according to Magic defender Casey Williams.
``In the past that has happened to us but we’ve learnt the hard work needed to get to the top four and it’s going to be even harder once you start playing those semis, we are well aware of that,’’ she said.
``Throughout this season we have been learning how to win and learning as a team what we can do and how powerful we actually are.’’
Williams acknowledges the play-offs are a different prospect altogether to what has gone before and much will come down to the day where both teams will start with a clean slate.
``It’s semifinals time, so everybody’s going to lift and we’re certainly not going to sit back and say, `oh, well we beat them by 17 last time, it’s going to happen again’,’’ she said. ``For us, it’s all about making sure that we still do our jobs properly and all the way for the whole 60 minutes.’’
Magic have learnt plenty about the demands of the mental side of the game in recent weeks which has helped with their dramatic turnaround after starting the season with four straight losses.
``As individuals, it’s been finding out what you need for your body to be right for the game as well physically and mentally,’’ she said.
``You go up so high (after a win), then you’ve got to come down again and then up again to prepare for the next one. It’s just making sure during the week that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, recovering well, eating well and realising that this is the final part of our season and it could be all over next week.’’
Williams was fulsome in her praise of Noeline Taurua’s role in the revival after the Magic mentor copped a steady stream of criticism during the early rounds.
``She has been the key to our turnaround, really,’’ Williams said. ``She stays positive no matter what. She’s always there to talk to and she knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. It has been about us learning about ourselves and she’s instrumental in that.
``We all have that belief and confidence in her……even though we sometimes think, `what are we doing this for’, it all pays off in the end…..she knows what she’s doing, she’s not silly.’’
After a slow start to the season, Williams and fellow defender Leana de Bruin have continued to make strides with each outing, the lethal combination nearing their potent best.
``We have our ups and downs in the games,’’ Williams said. ``It’s hard to have a consistent performance for 60 minutes, like trying to get every single ball and you know that you can’t get every ball, so just accepting that we can’t get every ball but we might get every second or third one which could be the difference.
``It’s not getting too hooked up on things, but for us when the other end’s going well, we go well.’’
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Magic cement playoffs spot
Completing a remarkable turnaround, Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic sealed home advantage for the minor semi-final with their 53-43 win over the Queensland Firebirds in Hamilton on Monday.
In a slightly anti-climatic final match to the regular season, the Magic were in the fortunate position of not having to win the match to make the play-offs. But in recording their ninth successive win after being bottom of the ladder after round four, the Magic secured a fifth successive place in the play-offs since the inception of the competition in 2008.
Finishing third overall, the Magic will meet the Adelaide Thunderbirds in their sudden-death clash next Monday, in Hamilton. The Melbourne Vixens and Northern Mystics will meet in the major semi-final in Melbourne on Sunday, the winner enjoying following week off.
The Magic controlled most of the proceedings tonight, a strong second half seeing off the defending champions, completing a familiar trend in the history of the competition where the reigning champions have failed to make the play-offs the following season.
With one of the most accurate shooters in the competition in the Magic’s Irene van Dyk at one end and one of the most prolific in Romelda Aiken under the hoop for the Firebirds, there was plenty of action expected from the two teams with the best attacking records.
Both sets of shooters obliged with flawless starts before the Magic nosed in front on the back of the exceptional positional play and movement provided by captain Laura Langman. The dynamic centre was pivotal in getting clean ball to van Dyk, who continued to belie her 40 years with deft footwork and clinical finishing. The veteran shooter got the early wood on her old nemesis Laura Geitz while at the other end defender Casey Williams went hunting from the outset, contesting all that came her way to stymie the visitors’ progress.
The Firebirds struggled at times with their flow but patient steady play paid off once they got the ball in the hands of ever-reliable shooters Aiken and Natalie Medhurst. The Magic made several pushes but Firebirds refused to go away as the home team headed to the first break with a slim 14-13 advantage.
The introduction of the taller Amy Steel for Shannon Eagland at wing defence for the Firebirds on the resumption with the view to disrupting the flow to van Dyk had an immediate impact. With the Magic quickly establishing a four-goal lead, relentless defensive work from the Firebirds and the reliability of Aiken and Medhurst helped the visitors draw level in the latter stages of the stanza.
Not to be outdone, Magic defenders Leana de Bruin and Williams rose to the challenge, stemming the Firebirds flow with some timely intercept ball to help the home finish with a flurry and a 27-24 lead at the main break.
Once again, the Firebirds were far from done as they made a storming start to the third stanza, a succession of goals propelling them into a one-goal lead within the opening three minutes.
It was not always pretty from the Magic but throughout the match when their lead was challenged they were able to reply in style. The home team recovered from some messy passages with compelling spurts of dominance to retain overall control.
The Firebirds never threw in the towel, challenging all the way but could not break the Magic’s outstanding defensive work as the home team went to the last break handily placed at 40-36.
The combination of Williams and de Bruin continued to excel in the run home, a string of turnover ball unleashing the shackles as the Magic finished the contest in rollicking fashion.
Magic ready for another pressure-cooker clash
Press Release June 28, 2012
Weeks of battling for survival has left Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic well prepared for their key ANZ Championship netball clash against the Queensland Firebirds in Hamilton on Monday.
Riding eight straight wins, the latest and most impressive being a 17-goal dissection of the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Magic have improved to such an extent they are now the form team of the competition with one round of the regular season remaining. After four opening losses came close to derailing their season almost before it had begun, Magic have lived on a knife edge, but a win over the defending champions would cement a spot in the Finals Series for the fifth successive year, a seemingly impossible scenario a few short weeks ago.
The big question is whether they can maintain the calibre of performance achieved in recent weeks.
``The pressure’s there but it’s not a pressure that we’re fearful of because we know what this pressure’s all about…..we’ve had it since round three,’’ Magic coach Noeline Taurua said. ``It has helped us build to where we are now and that’s in a good space.’’
Describing the win against Thunderbirds as Magic’s most complete of the season and mindful of the work that’s gone on behind the scenes, Taurua is confident the processes that have served the team so well in recent weeks will remain in place for whatever the Firebirds, who must win and rely on other results to make the play-offs, throw at them.
``There’s always risk and some times you don’t know that until you get into a game as to where the players are at, and that doesn’t change,’’ she said. ``There’s always the possibility that someone else is going to be better than you on the day.
``We can play the Magic way which is turn and let the ball go but I feel over the weeks we’ve been playing that disciplined style as well. I just feel we’ve got enough in our back pocket that if things aren’t going right we can play real tight simple netball to get ourselves through.’’
As has been the Magic style this year, mainly due to circumstance, there has been a cautious one game at a time approach. The booster of a winning record in recent weeks has nonetheless been tempered by their perilous situation with the perennial semifinalist taking until round 11 to jump into the top four for the first time. Having patiently bided their time, the mindset remains the same for the last clash of round 14, during which the semifinalists will be decided.
``We know we’ve got one more game and in that game we know we’ve got control over what we can do,’’ Taurua said.
``We really want to finish this round robin as best can while still keeping the same philosophy that we’ve been tracking along with for the last three months which is about us looking to be better and working hard to show that in our performance. That philosophy won’t change.
``We’re not getting carried away with anything. We know you can be good one week and the next week momentum can change, so we’re not taking anything for granted.’’
Taurua has kept a wary eye on the Firebirds and an improving second half to their season after they made a similarly disastrous opening to their campaign.
``Early on they lacked a bit of consistency but as the weeks have gone on, I’ve definitely seen much more evidence of their great form of last year,’’ she said.
``They have the ability to score quickly and prolifically if they’re in the mood.’’
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Magic overpower Thunderbirds
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic continued their giant-killing run to produce a commanding 59-42 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Tauranga on Saturday.
It was the second week in a row the Magic have knocked off the team at the top of the table after disposing of the Northern Mystics last week. In the best run of the season for any team, the Magic’s eighth straight win was another vital step in advancing their play-off hopes after a disastrous start to the season.
Apart from the first 10 minutes where the Thunderbirds competed strongly and held a slight edge, it was all the Magic. After a quiet start, super shooter Irene van Dyk, playing her first match as a 40-year-old, got back to doing what she does best in returning an impressive 41 goals from 42 attempts. But it was impossible to single out individuals, the Magic team as whole being in imperious form in the most convincing of outings.
Both teams presented with their strongest line-ups, including six current or former internationals in each side highlighting some mouth-watering individual match-ups.
The Thunderbirds defensive trio of Sharni Layton, Rebecca Bulley and Renae Hallinan helped the visitors hold a slight early edge as they made the Magic work hard for every crumb. Converting their turnovers and playing efficiently on attack, the Thunderbirds kept their noses just in front before the Magic stormed back with a strong finish to the first stanza.
Creative goal attack Julianna Naoupu continued her impressive season, leading the way under the hoop as the Magic gained parity which was further improved as defenders Leana de Bruin and Casey Williams stymied the Thunderbirds shooting options. With more ball flowing their way, the Magic headed to the first break with a 15-11 lead.
Despite being under intense defensive pressure, the home team continued to threaten on the resumption, the Magic showing great patience and being prepared to wait and play the ball around until the openings appeared. Van Dyk and Naoupu proved almost unstoppable, their shooting accuracy helping build a solid platform.
At the other end, de Bruin and Williams were all class in shutting down the Thunderbirds’ athletic shooter and key strike weapon Carla Borrego. Erin Bell had to carry the Thunderbirds shooting load, the visitors severely hampered by Borrego not having her usual impact.
Gaining more turnovers, a five-goal scoring spree pushed the Magic’s lead out to seven which increased to nine at one stage before the Thunderbirds pulled it back slightly. But it was the home team who took a handy 27-21 lead into the main break.
Five unanswered goals helped the Magic made a cracking start to the third stanza, their confidence growing by the minute as they set about carving up the Thunderbirds. The Magic’s timing on attack was almost impeccable, Naoupu and van Dyk revelling in the conditions as they cut an impressive swathe through the visitors’ attempts at resistance.
Showing plenty of variety on attack and staunch defence, the Magic turned on an outstanding quarter to outplay the Thunderbirds 18 goals to seven. With nothing going right for the visitors, the Magic sprinted to the last break in command at 45-28.
With the game out of reach, the Thunderbirds made several changes for the run home but they could make few inroads against a rampant Magic.
Another big challenge looming for Magic
Press Release June 21, 2012
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic’s ability to rise to the challenge is set to be tested once more, against the table-topping Adelaide Thunderbirds in ANZ Championship netball action in Tauranga on Saturday.
Despite the heroics of recent weeks, during which they have emerged from the mire to deliver seven straight wins and jump into the top four for the first time, Magic’s play-off hopes remain in the balance.
Competition winners in 2010 and looking to cement a home semifinal, the lolly-pink attired Thunderbirds have been hot property in recent matches and will present a formidable obstacle.
Notching a win over their great local rivals, Northern Mystics, in their latest outing was a huge confidence-booster for Magic but with Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds lying in wait to round out the regular season, any celebrations were kept on ice.
``Irrelevant of the table, these last three games of the season were always going to be hugely challenging,’’ evergreen Magic shooter Irene van Dyk said.
``We’ve only played one of those so there’s no way we’re going to get complacent. We’re happy with where we are at but we know that the work isn’t half done yet. There’s still a truckload of things to come…..and, it’s just getting harder, there’s nothing easy about it. That is quite a good thing because it puts us in a place where there’s no room for complacency.’’
Fresh from a 27-goal thumping of the NSW Swifts, van Dyk said Thunderbirds have a well-rounded team with few weaknesses and plenty of strike power. How Magic cope with the ability Australian teams have of wearing down their opponents will be a key factor.
``We have to be really smart playing against them and that means staying sharp on the ball and being clinical with our execution. Nothing less than our A double plus game will get us across the line’’ van Dyk said.
Achieving senior citizen status in netballing terms after celebrating her 40th birthday today (Thursday), van Dyk has been surprised about all the fuss it has created. Lining up for her 118th game in Magic colours on Saturday, the prodigious goal-scorer remains as enthusiastic and passionate about her sport as when she first started.
While she and fellow Silver Ferns Laura Langman, Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin attract most of the attention, van Dyk is quick to deflect praise on the exploits of the young tyros, Julianna Naoupu, Elias Shadrock and import Khao Watts, who have stepped up admirably to the demands placed on them.
``There is great team unity and the players are definitely playing for one another, those younger ones have been incredible’’ she said. ``We have learnt from those first four losses the importance of doing the hard yards to understand what it’s all about.’’
Van Dyk and Williams, who turned 27 on Tuesday, were honoured with a cake baked by de Bruin after training on Wednesday and that’s about as far as any celebrating went for the shooting maestro. The consummate professional, van Dyk said she would not consider any sort of birthday celebration while the competition was still in progress.
``She is the ultimate professional both on and off the court and she demonstrates it with her unique personality,’’ Magic coach Noeline Taurua said of van Dyk.
``What you see with Irene is what you get, she is very genuine and definitely the real deal. She always wants to improve and loves leading from the front, when she’s in that frame of mind she’s unstoppable.
``She demonstrates her value week in, week out and that’s phenomenal because of how long she’s been in the game. Her desire to be better and continued dominance on court is remarkable.’’
Khao Watts is pictured up against Maddie Proud from the Thunderbirds.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic publicity
Magic continue winning ways
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic continued their upward surge to secure a vital 48-46 win over the Northern Mystics in Auckland on Sunday.
Showing great composure, the Magic repelled everything the table-topping Mystics could throw at them in recording their seventh straight win as they climbed into the top four for the first time this season.
Pushing to host a home semifinal, the result has now seriously harmed the Mystics chances of doing so as they dropped to third on the table with two rounds of the regular season remaining.
With so much riding on the match, the tight, intense and furious start was to be expected. There was nothing to separate the teams early on as the pair level-pegged during the opening stages. The rugged pressure executed by both sets of defences meant patience was needed on attack, the teams regularly needing to pass back and re-set.
With Cathrine Latu, the competition’s most accurate shooter well contained, the Mystics were reliant on Maria Tutaia taking the early load. The long range expert delivered with her renowned pinpoint accuracy while Irene van Dyk and Julianna Naoupu proved as equally effective at the other end.
Squeezing the Mystics attackers deep and wide, helped the Magic defenders get their hand on more ball as the visitors made a strong finish to the quarter to lead 15-11.
Intent on getting more ball to Latu, Mystics were able to break several Magic surges to stay well in touch. Momentum swung back and forth during the second stanza, Magic pushing out to five on several occasions with Mystics not able to get closer than three.
Unable to make a serious dent, the Mystics made changes, bringing Jess Moulds from the bench to goalkeeper and reshuffling Kayla Cullen and Anna Harrison in their defence line. But it was the Magic’s defensive pairing of Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin who were doing most of the damage.
The pair played an influential role in shutting down the Mystics shooting options with their ability to disrupt and snaffle ball, Tutaia going off the boil as the home team’s shooting accuracy dropped away.
On attack, Magic import Khao Watts proved a steadying and calm influence as the visitors kept their noses in front to lead 27-22 at the main break on the back of a perfect 15 from 15 from van Dyk.
Unable to break the Magic’s grip, there were more changes from the Mystics for the second half. Captain Temepara George moved into centre while Grace Rasmussen came off the bench and donned the wing attack’s bib as the home team mounted a furious assault.
With Moulds, Harrison and Cullen picking off vital intercept ball and Tutaia regaining her touch under the hoop, the Mystics roared back into contention to draw within one. However, the Magic remained composed, weathering the storm to again finish with a flourish.
Van Dyk and Naoupu took back the initiative, shooting accurately and hauling in any rebound ball. Steady, patient and effective play from the rest of the team helped restore Magic’s lead as they went to the last break with a 41-35 lead.
The Mystics made sure of a thrilling run to the line, scoring five on the trot to again draw within two, play seesawing wildly back and forth as the match delivered on its promise to remain on a knife edge until the final whistle.