AVIS Magic continued their upward trend with a thrilling hard-fought 51-47 win over the Stars to consolidate third spot on the table in Tauranga on Saturday.

Pocketing a third straight win, the Magic also completed a clean sweep over the Stars this season which has provided a close contest on each occasion. It consigned the visitors to a record ninth bonus point for this campaign, an ANZ Premiership record.

An outright win was the only chance the Stars had of keeping their Finals Series prospects alive while the Magic were keen to keep their winning streak rolling.

As such, the importance of the occasion was not lost on either side, the pair delivering a riveting spectacle which swung back and forth to remain on a knife edge throughout. With the Magic putting up 58 shots and the Stars 57, shooting accuracy ultimately proved the difference.

In the wake of injury to Ali Wilshier, the experienced Ariana Cable-Dixon cemented her spot at centre to get the start for the Magic in an otherwise settled line-up.

For the Stars, Monica Falkner got the start at goal attack while Tori Kolose (wing attack) and Holly Mather (centre) continued their budding midcourt relationship.

The teams played out an enthralling first half during which momentum ebbed and flowed, allowing for one side to dominate for a spell before the other charged back to keep the game on an edge.

Terrific defence from both sets of in-circle defenders meant patience and accuracy were required as the flow from both teams was slowed.

The Stars pair of Holly Fowler and Kate Burley, in her 100th national league match, kept the athletic shooting duo of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Saviour Tui under close wraps. At the other end, the long limbs of Georgia Takarangi and Erena Mikaere caused all sorts of problems for Maia Wilson and Falkner.

A couple of quick intercepts from the ever-present Takarangi handed the impetus to the Magic before a late closing surge left the home side with a slim 31-12 lead at the first break.

The second stanza played out in a similar fashion with a goal-for-goal start before the Magic, with fewer errors, staunch defence, and the timing and accuracy of Ekenasio and Tui all helping to construct a five-goal buffer.

Looking as if the Magic had claimed control, the Stars had other ideas, storming back to keep the edge on proceedings intact. The long shot ability of Amorangi Malesala, timing of Wilson to set up play and the introduction of goalkeeper Lili Tokaduadua caused a re-think for the Magic.

Four straight goals to the Stars and a drawn quarter left the game perfectly poised, the Magic clinging to a 26-25 lead at the main break.

Mirroring the previous two quarters, the contest was close through the third spell, the intensity levels building as both sides threw themselves into the fray.

A mini-break by the Magic was quickly defused by the Stars as the teams went toe-to-toe. With playmaker Ekenasio, in tandem with wing attack Claire O’Brien, playing influential roles at the attack end, the Magic made a bold move late in the piece.

That was helped by the continued menacing presence of Mikaere, Takarangi and Georgie Edgecombe, the pressure told on the Stars with fumbles and missed goals having a ripple-on effect.

Grabbing the initiative on the back of scoring the last five goals of the 15-minute term, the Magic steamed into the last break with a handy 40-35 lead.

With Tokaduadua making a strong impression, the Stars were out of the blocks quickly, a storming start in the final push to line helping them level up the scores, the twists and turns remaining until the final whistle in an exciting spectacle.

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