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Mystics and Magpies to clash in Super Club final

The Northern Mystics will meet the Collingwood Magpies (Australia) in tomorrow’s Super Club final after both posted impressive semi final wins in Nelson on Thursday.

Once in the groove, the Mystics turned on an enterprising display to hold the edge over Splice Construction WBOP Magic 49-42 while the highly-touted Magpies overpowered Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse with a forceful 54-40 win in the first semi final.

Spearheaded by ever-improving schoolgirl shooter Grace Nweke, three goals in the last minute of the first quarter helped the Mystics forge a four-goal buffer from which they didn’t look back.

The Mystics well-versed defensive end of Sulu Fitzpatrick, Phoenix Karaka and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, along with the dazzling skills provided by wing attack Elisapeta Toeava pushed the Mystics out to a handy 10-goal lead at the main break.

Magic more than held their own in the second half with young import shooter Georgia Marshall and defender Georgia Tong impressing while ensuring Mystics didn’t have things all their own way.

The Magpies got away to a flyer in a clinical opening stanza, finding the direct route to imposing 1.95m shooter Shimona Nelson as the Pulse took time to find their feet.

Down by five at the first break, the Pulse delivered a strong second stanza with the defensive unit of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Renee Savai’inaea keeping the Magpies attacking line in check. With more ball in their hands, shooters Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio ensured the Pulse were well in the game when trailing by two at the main break.

However, the Magpies slipped into overdrive during a rampant third quarter where veteran play-maker Natalie Medhurst dictated the course of action, backed up by the scoring prowess of player of the match, Nelson, who slotted 40 goals from 43 attempts, athletic midcourter Ashleigh Brazill and classy goalkeeper Geva Mentor.

The Steel will meet The Good Oil Tactix in tomorrow’s play-off for fifth and sixth after today’s fifth to eighth-place classification games.

It took until the final second of the match for the Steel to break a tight, dour struggle in pipping the Northern Stars 38-37.

In a largely defensive game where a lot of the attacking ball was picked off, the result was a low-scoring affair but not lacking in action.

Despite remaining winless, the Stars were much improved from their previous outings in showcasing more calculated and patient build-ups. That was mirrored by the Steel, who lifted the intensity and defensive pressure after a drawn first half to gain the slimmest of edges.

Trinidad & Tobago import Kalifa McCollin again highlighted her athleticism, poise and court craft under the Steel hoop while willowy in-circle Stars defender Kate Burley was a menacing presence throughout.

Birthday girl Sophia Fenwick was a standout for the Tactix, who were hard-pressed by the Wasps (England) before a late push got them across the line for a 41-37 win.

The rangy defender got her hands on plenty of turnover ball in a low-scoring, defence-orientated clash where she received strong support from fellow defenders Lily Marshall and Kate Lloyd.

Wasps showed they had learned their lessons well during the week in delivering their best showing of the tournament.

Executing their game plan efficiently and with more precision, the visitors grabbed the lead on a couple of occasions while also having the satisfaction of winning their first quarter of the tournament in a game where the margin was always close.

At the defensive end, captain Hannah Knights and Josie Huckle had strong outings while shooting rock Rachel Dunn retained her impressive form after nailing 24 shots from 25 attempts.

The Stars and Wasps, both winless, will meet in the play-off for seventh.