Keen to consolidate their second spot on the ANZ Premiership ladder, The Good Oil Tactix banked maximum points with a hard fought win on the road.
A strong first and fourth quarter paved the way to a 44-35 win over the Splice Construction Magic at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on Sunday.
It was their second win of the round and while captain Jane Watson was pleased to net the eight competition points, she was left frustrated that her side gave the Magic a sniff of victory.
The hosts were left wondering what may have been after grinding their way into contention in the second and third spells but fell short in critical moments in a decisive fourth quarter where they netted just three goals.
It was the Magic’s first game at home this season and they were desperate to perform for their fans – the Waikato cowbells ringing from the stands.
Coach Amigene Metcalfe reverted to the more familiar shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou while Erena Mikaere was given the nod at goal defence with Georgia Tong at the back and Holly Fowler on the wing.
It was a settled line for the Tactix which made the first break on the scoreboard to lead by three goals mid-way through the first spell.
The drive from Kimiora Poi, playing in her 50th national league match, to the circle edge coupled with the direct pass from Erikana Pedersen to her shooters put the Magic defenders in two minds.
A string of four goals for the Tactix late in the quarter silenced the ring of the bells as the visitors led 15-10 at the break.
The Tactix’ high-speed play on attack shifted a gear as play resumed and with Ellie Bird, also celebrating her 50th game for the red-and-blacks, standing tall in the shooting circle, the visitors stretched their advantage to nine goals.
Poi and Charlotte Elley were instrumental in disrupting the Magic’s flow while at the other end of the court goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was the play-maker up front.
Little went right for a Magic attacking unit which was often found searching for options against a torrid Tactix defence.
But a messy period of play late in the second quarter, ignited by Magic goal keep Georgia Tong, gave the hosts an opening which they took to close the gap to 20-25 by the main break.
The belief continued to bubble for the Magic as they forced the Tactix into errors and the difference was cut again to just three goals.
Tong worked tirelessly against Bird, getting her hand to ball while captain Sam Winders safely delivered the turnover ball to the shooting circle which worked more efficiently as the game progressed.
Latu-Meafou and McPhee did a better job in splitting their defenders to find good position under the post.
The Magic grind was rewarded, as the errors from the Tactix started to mount, and McPhee levelled the scores at 32-32 with just a minute left in the third quarter.
With just two goals separating the teams heading into the deciding spell, the intensity lifted another notch but the shooting wobbles hurt the Magic’s chances of getting on top of their opponents.
Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek went to her bench with just over 10 minutes to play as Samon Nathan picked up the wing defence bib to replace Elley.
And a couple of key turnovers from her defenders snuffed out the Magic’s hopes as the Tactix opened the lead again to six goals.
With just over four minutes to play Selby-Rickit made way for Jess Prosser with the visitors pouncing on any turnover to score.