Resurgent late season form has Kia Magic in buoyant mode ahead of their ANZ Championship netball rematch with Southern Steel in Rotorua on Sunday.
A gutsy three-goal extra time away win over Queensland Firebirds has rejuvenated the defending champions campaign heading towards the business end of the season.

 

More than happy with the manner of the win which helped Magic leapfrog Steel into fourth place, coach Noeline Taurua, however, is far from resting on her laurels as the scramble to seal a play-offs spot heats up.

''It was a fantastic game for our team but it was only one game,'' she said.

''There was a lot of character shown not only out on court but also from those on the bench. Everybody was in that game, it was a full team effort and that is indicative of our team ethics.''

With four rounds of the regular season remaining, it is only goal differential that separates Magic and Steel. The southerners had the better of Magic by seven goals two rounds ago but lost a little traction when going down to the Melbourne Vixens in their latest outing.

Steel have plenty in their favour, an impressive overall team unit with firepower at both ends, spearheaded by Jamaican import Jhaniele Fowler, the towering scoring machine who has had a sesational impact in her debut season.

''The shooting power of Jhaniele and their ability to score very fast is dangerous,'' Taurua said. ''It can change momentum so quickly and we've just got to be smarter in what we do.

''It's all about pressure, right across the board. Last time we got caught up with Jhaniele too much but that's easy to do.''

Taurua is pleased with the steps taken against Firebirds, the real litmus test now being if Magic can produce the same qualities against Steel.
''We finally just nailed some of those questions we've been asking about ourselevs as a team – our team spirit, our commitment and that willingness to really work hard,'' she said.

''It's taken us this long but things are starting to come together. All the trainings that we've done, the purpose and the reason behind them we haven't properly displayed, and for us in that game (Firebirds) we had to rely on everything that we had done up until now to come good.
''It's very pleasing and I think the dots are starting to join.''

Magic have tended to go through flat patches during most of their games this season and that has become an area of focus.

''For us it's definitely abouting managing the ebbs and the flows that happen in a game, that's the key for us, that we're not reactive to the score and that we can actually control what's happening around us on court and be able to grab momentum and run with it when the timing's right,'' Taurua said.

Happy with how her team pulled together against Firebirds, Taurua was extra pleased with the continuing improvement of goal attack Ellen Halpenny who shouldered much of the shooting load as well as getting through a mountain of work outside the circle.

''I think Ellen's coming of age,'' she said. ''It's probably a little way until the final package presents but she is working very hard and her numbers (stats) are pretty phenomenal for a goal attack. She's doing brilliantly and getting better all the time.''

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