The Mainland Tactix have completed an historic start to the ANZ Premiership season after edging the Northerns Mystics 42-39.
For the first time in both the ANZ Championship and Premiership competitions the Mainland Tactix have opened their season with back to back wins.
The defensive effort from both teams was the story of the night in the low-scoring encounter, both sides having their moments with shooting percentages becoming a critical element.
In an interesting starting line-up, it was the Mystics youngsters Tera-Maria Amani and Jamie Hume given the start leaving the Silver Ferns duo Maria Folau and Bailey Mes were on the bench.
However, it was the respective custodians, captain Anna Harrison, for the Mystics, and her opposite Temalisi Fakahokotau from the goalkeeper positions, who were the early shining lights.
Both picked off a number of intercepts and deflections during long periods of play with no scoring. The Mystics found their feet after a slow start to negate the Tactix early lead with the home team pulling out to a 12-8 lead at the first break.
Struggling with their conversion rate, the Tactix introduced the competition’s tallest player Ellie Bird to take her place at goal shoot under the hoop on the resumption.
With the Mystics midcourt having the slight edge, the home team threatened to burst clear but couldn’t shake the gritty Tactix response. With import shooter Kate Beveridge playing a leading hand on attack and Fakahokotau, defensively, for the Tactix, the visitors completed a stirring comeback.
To a homecrowd applause, Folau made her entrance midway through the quarter in her first outing of the season but there proved to be little difference between the teams, who went to the main break locked at 19-all.
With Mes taking her place at goal shoot, the Mystics started the second half scoring the first three goals. The Tactix replied in style by clinching the next five in a sign of what was to follow in a tight third stanza.
A lift from midcourters Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen combined with the poise of Beveridge helped the Tactix build a slight buffer before the Mystics came charging back. Both teams had moments when they threatened to break loose but with little separating the combatants, neither could gain the ascendancy.
Strong play from defender Phoenix Karaka helped the Mystics stay on an even footing while ensuring an exciting finale, nothing separating the teams when going into the last break at 31-all.