T&T's Kalifa McCollin took on the weight of the shooting and had missed only one of her 16 in the first half but her Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel was edged 37-36 by Splice Construction Magic, who pulled off their first win since the opening round of the ANZ Premiership in March before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
But Magic waited until the final seconds to do it, keeping the home crowd at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton, New Zealand, holding their breath, as the Magic stole the one-goal victory from the hands of Steel. Both teams were coming off tough losses over the weekend.
In the opening quarter, Magic's Khiarna Williams at goal-attack was strong support for her goal-shooter Kelsey McPhee, who was willing to put up some long shots despite being under some fierce challenges from the Steel defenders.
On defence for the Magic, Holly Fowler and Georgia Tong were quick to nab loose ball and the home side built a four-goal lead, which they held at the first break, 13-9.
The Steel attack was more assertive at the start of the second quarter, Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton bringing more order and vision as they closed to within one. But a few errors in feeds swung the momentum back the Magic’s way, and a run of five goals put them back in control.
Abby Erwood came into the Steel defence, joining Selby-Rickit, and immediately helping to stem the Magic flow. This time the Magic’s six-goal lead was scythed back to one, 21-20, at halftime.
Speedy goal-attack McCollin continued to excel, producing 15 goals from 16 attempts. On the other side, McPhee hadn’t missed a shot for the Magic, but she was missing from the court at the start of the third quarter, replaced by Abigail Latu-Meafou.
Kate Heffernan’s doggedness at wing defence helped the Steel hold a two-goal advantage. And even a change in the shooting circle, Kiana Pelasio coming on for McCollin, who netted 20 of 22 overall, didn’t impact on their momentum.
Two crucial intercepts by Sam Winders put the Magic back in the reckoning, fighting to be within one, but some errant shooting meant they couldn’t reclaim the lead.
Two clutch shots from Latu-Meafou tied up the scores with just over two minutes on the clock, and in the dying seconds, a steal from Whitney Souness was also converted by Latu-Meafou and the long-awaited win was in their hands.
On Saturday, McCollin's Steel faced off against T&T teammate defender Daystar Swift's Robinhood Northern Stars but the former was on the losing end, falling 50-43 at the Auckland Netball Centre.
McCollin was very accurate under the hoop but lacked in the volume of shots. She shot with 95 per cent accuracy, hitting 17 off 18.
Swift, however, did not feature in the match. She did on Thursday in Stars' 52-42 loss to Tactix. Her team's next match is on Sunday against Magic while McCollin will be preparing for back-to-back matches versus Mystics on Friday and Pulse on Saturday.