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The Northern Stars' chances of making the ANZ Premiership final look to be extinguished, after losing 52-42 to the Mainland Tactix last night.
The Stars had the opportunity to draw within three points of the Tactix on the ladder and stay in the hunt for the race to face the Central Pulse in the final, but tonight's loss grew the gap to 11 points to the second-placed Tactix, with the Stars stuck in fourth, with only four games remaining to close the gap.
Canterbury netball fans were treated to a convincing performance from the Tactix, in their only home game of the season.
In front of over 5000 fans at Christchurch's Horncastle Arena - the highest number in Premiership history - the Tactix surged to victory on the back of an excellent first half to move three points ahead of the Northern Mystics into second, though the Mystics have a game in hand.
The Tactix looked comfortable from the first whistle and made no changes in the game. After muted crowds during the competition's Auckland-based resumption, the Tactix's return home was greeted with roars and cheers for every Tactix goal in the first quarter, with the home side up by two at the break.
Spearheaded by experienced defenders Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau, the Tactix lifted their intensity in the second quarter, and extended their lead to eight goals at halftime.
A handful of defensive changes for the Stars in the third quarter helped reduce the deficit to only three, just before the final period, but the Tactix held their nerve to claim a third consecutive win, and second in five days over the Stars.
Tactix midcourter Erikana Pedersen was the game's MVP, with 37 feeds and three defensive pickups highlighting an impressive performance.
The Stars are back in action on Saturday night against the Southern Steel, and the Tactix have a chance to further secure their grip on second place on Sunday, when they travel to Hamilton to take on the bottom-placed Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, while two hours later the Mystics face a daunting trip to Porirua to take on the Pulse.