Accuracy on attack and timing on defence gave Northern Mystics their third win of the trans-Tasman netball league with a 65-62 win over Canterbury Tactix in Auckland on Sunday.
The win edges the Mystics into eighth place on the ladder, one of five teams on six points but bumped down the table with a sub-par goal difference.
The win was centred around the accuracy of Silver Ferns shooters Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia, and a dynamic defensive effort led by young goalkeeper Temalisi Fakahokotau.
Initially, however, the Tactix dominated, finishing the first quarter on a five-goal run which gave them a 20-14 lead at the break.
Mystics coach Debbie Fuller reacted by making a couple of key changes at her defensive end, where Anna Harrison had looked uncharacteristically lacklustre at the back.
Harrison shifted out to goal defence and 19-year-old Fakahokotau slotted in at goalkeeper, piling more close-in pressure on the Tactix’s Malawi shooter Mwai Kumwenda.
Julie Corletto moved to wing defence, where her quick hands and a 20cm height advantage ramped up the pressure on nippy Taxtix wing attack Keshia Grant.
Fakahokotau’s injection proved a master stroke in the second quarter, as the Mystics outscored Canterbury 20-11 to take a 34-31 lead into the halftime break.
She disrupted the flow of ball into Kumwenda, and picked up some beautifully timed intercepts when she went hunting outside the circle.
Fuller also introduced Temepara Bailey at wing attack for Nadia Loveday, and although the former Silver Fern looked a little rusty timing her feed into the circle, her experience proved invaluable in marshalling the Mystics’ misfiring midcourt.
The Tactix refused to lie down, Kumwenda’s outstanding elevation a huge asset in hauling in a barrage of high-octane long-range balls as she looked to shake clear of Fakahokotau.
The visitors won the quarter narrowly 15-14 and cut back the Mystics’ lead to 48-46 at the three-quarter mark, a margin further reduced as a hectic fourth quarter drew to a close.
With less than three minutes remaining and the scores tied at 60-60, the Mystics forced a held ball call with an impenetrable zone defence for the turnover which proved a matchwinner.