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Magic romp to famous win

Published: 9:03PM Friday June 30, 2006 Source: ONE Sport

The National Bank Cup trophy is staying north after the defending champions Magic won a fierce final against the Sting 67-43.

A sold out Mystery Creek crowd roared on the Waikato/Bay of Plenty franchise to win the first ever NBC final played on the North Island.

The Sting never gave up in their ninth consecutive final but a tear of eight goals in a row in the third quarter proved to be the decisive move for the Magic and they dominated the final quarter for a comfortable win.

The game echoed last year's final, which the Magic won easily by 26 points, but for two quarters there was nothing much in the game.

Sting coach Robyn Broughton pulled a surprise with her opening team selection.

After days of speculation on whether Donna Loffhagen would start from the bench, the returning netballer was chosen up front at goal shoot along side Belinda Colling, with Tania Dalton and Natalie Avellino left to watch on from the sidelines.

Loffhagen, the Tall Ferns captain, played her first game in 12 months in last weekend's come-from-behind victory over the Force, after her unsuccessful attempt this year at securing a WNBA basketball contract.

Magic coach Noeline Taurua stuck with the same side which defeated the Sting in the semi-finals, keeping Amigene Metcalfe at centre with Laura Langman at wing defence.

Long shots

The Sting, traditionally slow starters, refused to be overawed in their trip to Hamilton and went toe-to-toe with the home side in the early exchanges.

Loffhagen, who looked rusty when she came off the bench against the Force, hit the ground running and fired in some nice long shots inside the circle.

Frequently in the first quarter the Magic eked out two-point leads but the South Islanders kept snapped at their toes.

It took until the 12th minute before the home side got a little more breathing space with a 13-10 lead.

Both sides were throwing long passes into the circle but the risky moves resulted in some good intercepts. At the break the Magic were up 14-12.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty franchise was looking more settled in the second quarter, opening up a four-point lead midway through the stanza.

Tanya Lund began scoring some big goals to help Irene van Dyk in the circle.

Roared on by the sold-out crowd, the Magic increased the gap to five at the end of the quarter to lead 32-27.

Sting coach Broughton changed her attack at the start of the third quarter, bringing Avellino off the bench at goal shoot with Loffhagen moving out to goal attack.

The move seemed to spark the visitors into life, with Loffhagen in particular looking more comfortable.

But just as it looked like the Sting might level the match, the Magic hit back with eight goals in a row towards the end of the quarter to lead 45-35.

The gap opened up to 12 at the end of the quarter with Magic up 48-36.

And the one-way traffic continued in the final 15 minutes as the home crowd started to celebrate a famous victory.

Another five-goal run helped the Magic to a big victory to see the trophy stay in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region for another year.