Mystics have still got it, result shows

Northern Mystics' shooter Grace Nweke (left) is pressured by Waikato-Bay of Plenty magic defender...
Northern Mystics' shooter Grace Nweke (left) is pressured by Waikato-Bay of Plenty magic defender Erena Mikaere during an ANZ Premiership match in Hamilton on Saturday. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
The defending champion Northern Mystics fired a warning shot to the rest of the ANZ Premiership after rallying to post a 12-goal win over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the opening round on Saturday.

Once warmed up, the Mystics produced a decisive second half to open their campaign with an impressive 64-52 win in Hamilton.

Mystics captain Mikaela Sokolich-Beatson and Magic defender Oceane Maihi both copped two-minute suspensions for dangerous play during the game.

"I’m actually really embarrassed by it because it’s not how I want to play and I pride myself on being a clean player," Sokolich-Beatson said.

"So to go off in round one is really unfortunate."

The umpire ruled Sokolich-Beatson used her shoulder in a dangerous challenge, while Maihi was involved in a collision with Mystics strike weapon Grace Nweke.

On the back foot, a two-goal halftime deficit did not seem to rattle the defending champions, who found themselves a further five goals back in the early stages of the third quarter.

The introduction of talented Mystics newcomer Hannah Glen into the shooting circle and outstanding defender Carys Stythe saw the Auckland side finally hit top gear to lead 47-41 at threequarter time.

Stacked with talent, the Mystics showed their ability to score quickly, with Silver Fern Nweke nailing 50 goals while the team, as a unit, were clinical in turning around an inconsistent first half.

Defeated Magic captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio (15/17) believes her side has better potential this season after a rollicking start to match the highly touted Mystics.

"We were really great in the first half but we know Mystics can score fast and they came out and did that," Ekenasio said.

"We’ll go away and figure it out."

Ekenasio said her new combination with former Steel goal shoot Saviour Tui (37/42) had plenty of potential.

Overcoming early nerves, Tui worked in seamlessly with a fresh and energetic-looking Ekenasio.

The pair combined perfectly through their timing and speed. At the other end, the Magic were able to pick up defensive turnovers to wrest a 16-14 lead at the first break.

Yesterday, the Pulse were forced to defuse a determined Stars fightback before clinching a 58-51 win to open their 2024 campaign in Auckland.

Leading by as much as 10 in the first half, the Pulse were put under pressure in the third quarter by the Stars, who closed the gap to four with 15 minutes to play.

The home side flew out of the blocks in the final stanza, closing to within one before the Pulse took charge, five unanswered goals providing the impetus to nail a first-up win.

The Steel are in Christchurch to play the Tactix tonight.