The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have made history by being the first New Zealand netball side to claim the ANZ Championship with their stunning come-back 41-38 win over the Vixens in Melbourne.
After five long years the perennial finalists, competing in their third final, roared home as netball fans across the country embraced the moment.
A jubilant Irene van Dyk described the win as "absoloutely amazing", the 40-year-old tutor having battled through a difficult week after losing her mother to a long battle with cancer shortly before last week's preliminary final win oner the Northern Mystics.
The Magic trailed for most of the game, down four points heading into the final quarter, before clawing themselves back and levelling the scores at 35-all with five minutes remaining.
Contributions were strong across the court in the tense final moments, defender Casey Williams claiming a vital turnover to give Julianna Naoupu the chance to draw level, before she put them ahead by one with her next opportunity.
The Vixens showed their determination to fight back to within one at 36-35 with three left on the clock but Irene van Dyk nailed a pressure goal to restore the Magic's two-point advantage.
With the game still in the balance with two minutes remaining, van Dyk sealed the result with back-to-back goals sparking jubilant celebrations on the sideline and in the stands, with a great contingent of Magic supporters drowning out their stunned Vixen counterparts.
For much of the game the task seemed beyond them with the Vixens dominating play by pressuring the Magic mid-courters and restricting the feed of possession down to the likes of Naoupu and van Dyk.
The Magic seemed hesitant and out of ideas when confronted by fierce and determined Vixens defence and although the Magic were presented with plenty of opportunities they were being hustled out of the game.
Casey Williams and player of the match Leana de Bruin were strong from the outset, their defensive work keeping the Magic within range even though at times they were staring at a four and five-goal deficit.
The first quarter was a scrappy affair with both sides looking nervous. The scoreboard reflected that with the Vixens taking a 8-7 head into the first break.
The hosts then put the foot down in the second quarter and led 22-18 by half-time, maintaining the edge in the third period with a three point lead of 31-28 at the final break.
But as they have shown in the last three months, with eleven straight wins bringing them to today's final, the Magic never gave up and once they came back to within one, all the pressure swung back on the home side.
The Magic lifted once they had a sniff and with Elias Shadrock harassing the Vixens attack into errors, the Magic got the opportunities they needed to dominate the closing stages, saving their best period of play for the end.
After starting their season with four straight losses it took a remarkable effort to win twelve on the trot and put an end to the Australian's domination of the trans-Tasman competition.
The ANZ Championship trophy will be crossing the Tasman to its
new home in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty area but all New Zealand
netball fans will enjoy this win.