Needing to re-load time and again, AVIS Magic held their nerve in a dramatic final quarter to post their first win of the season after clinching a tight 52-49 result over the Stars in Auckland on Saturday. 

With both teams chasing their first win of the season, the Magic headed into the final quarter holding a five-goal lead but the following 15 minutes threw up a host of critical moments to leave the result in the balance. 

With just over four minutes to go, the Stars had edged to within one, repeating the dose two minutes later but clutch intercepts from hard-working Magic defensive pair Georgie Edgecombe and Georgia Takarangi nailed the Stars fate. 

With the shooting load sitting with experienced captains, Maia Wilson for the Stars, and Ameliaranne Ekenasio for the visitors, the pair were influential figures throughout, both enjoying 93 percent success rates. 

The closeness of the match kept interest high but both teams would be disappointed with the high turnover count which included 47 losses across the match. 

Happy to gain their first points of the season, Magic continued their trend of getting off to great starts but, once again, couldn’t hold those efforts through the second half. 

The Stars employed four different shooters through the match but in the end, a high error count did not help their cause as they battled to a second straight bonus point loss in Holly Fowler’s 100th national league match.   

Following an impressive debut last week, goal shoot Summer Temu was rewarded with her first start at the elite level while centre Claire O’Brien and goal defence Takarangi got the nod in the Magic’s starting line-up. 

With the Stars bedding in a new attack line and taking time to settle, the Magic took full advantage through the first quarter, twice stretching out to five-goal leads. The growing shooting combination of Ekenasio and Saviour Tui continued to shine with the aerial skills of Tui, particularly, a feature. 

With neither side able to stamp a dominant marker, the Stars enjoyed their own slick passages of play to trim the lead, the Magic taking a 16-13 buffer into the first break. 

After a goal-for-goal run to start the second stanza, the visitors, through their better accuracy and the sharp shooting of Ekenasio and Tui broke the shackles to build on their lead. Long-limbed defender Erena Mikaere was also good value in disrupting the Star’s shooting options. 

Former Silver Fern Monica Falkner made her entrance at goal attack for the Stars in her first game back after having her first child four months ago. With Wilson slipping back to goal shoot, the Stars took time to establish the new connections as the Magic doubled their advantage when leading 30-24 at the main break. 

Both sides were guilty of coughing up soft turnovers in a patchy but tense third quarter. Tight defensive efforts and an increasing number of turnovers resulted in the scoring rates slowing down with the midcourters working overtime in a bid to find openings on attack. 

The home side made a bold bid early on after the resumption, closing the gap to just one with Wilson and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan playing strong hands. However, patience on attack paid off for the Magic with their ability to thread the ball safely through court. 

With Ekenasio showing all her experience on attack and calm intent under the hoop, the Magic defused the Stars momentum to hold them at bay and take a 40-35 lead into the last turn. 

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