Dominant opener for Magic

Defending champions Kia Magic made a seamless start to their 2013 campaign with a comprehensive 69-46 win over the Canterbury Tactix in Nelson on Sunday.

It was an emphatic statement from Kia Magic, who reversed their traditional trend of being slow starters as they look to set new standards for the sixth edition of the trans-Tasman competition.

It was always going to be a tough ask for the Tactix, the least experienced team in the competition, coming up against the most experienced from Waikato/Bay of Plenty, who had the luxury of being able to field a team with just the one change from last year’s championship-winning line-up.

Kia Magic were able to get a number of players on court, in the first ANZ Championship match to be played in Nelson, part of the Tactix catchment area, and could be well pleased with their first-up efforts.

Making full use of their greater experience, Kia Magic were particularly effective on attack, ageless shooter Irene van Dyk returning a 93 percent success rate with 45 goals from 48 attempts while Laura Langman was her usual industrious self. Pivots Khao Watts and Jess Tuki shared the game as did goal attacks Jess Waitapu and Ellen Halpenny, all having impressive outings.

With Julianna Naoupu moving to the Tactix in the off-season, the slightly built Waitapu filled the vacant goal attack position for Kia Magic in the starting line-up, slotting into the role with ease alongside veteran van Dyk.

The pair often made it look easy in the Kia Magic circle, Waitapu adept at moving the circle to create the openings while not shying away from putting up the shot when required. The irrepressible van Dyk was at her efficient best, in converting any shot that came her way.

Tactix put up a brave opening stanza, England import Jo Harten being a key figure, the lanky international shooter sinking 11 shots from 11 attempts, mostly from distance to keep the southern team in the hunt as Kia Magic went to the first break with a 17-12 lead.

Kia Magic went up a level on the resumption, making the under-pressure Tactix pay for a mounting turnover rate as they rattled in the goals while building a healthy scoreline. The going got tough for the home team as Kia Magic’s experience shone through, the visitor’s rolling relentlessly on while producing a slick and seamless delivery on most occasions.

Kia Magic bolted away to a 19-9 advantage through the second stanza, van Dyk returning a perfect 25 from 25 as the visitors went to the main break well in control at 36-21.

Both teams made changes for the second half, Tactix coming up with four personnel or positional changes while Halpenny got her first outing with her new team, against her old team, and Tuki took over at wing attack from Watts.

There was no respite for the Tactix as Kia Magic stretched the lead to 20 goals, captain Langman leading from the front with her traditional strong driving on attack and links with van Dyk. It remained an uphill battle for the Tactix but England imports Harten and midcourter Jade Clarke had their moments for the losing team.

However, it was a dominant Kia Magic who powered their way to an emphatic 53-33 advantage at three-quarter time.

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