Two long-range goals to Maria Tutaia in the dying seconds have helped the Northern Mystics clinch a remarkable 45-45 draw with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the clash of the two leading New Zealand teams in the trans-Tasman netball league.
The Mystics overcame a nine-goal deficit early in the final quarter, slowly clawing back from 41-32 down to give themselves a chance against the home side in Rotorua.
With 10 seconds remaining, the Mystics swung their centre pass straight down court and Tutaia had enough time to drill her second successive goal from the top of the circle to stun the crowd.
It keeps the Mystics top of the New Zealand standings with three wins, two draws and a loss. They are unbeaten since round two.
The Magic remain second but are vulnerable to being passed by teams below them who have played fewer games.
The result ends the Magic’s six-game winning streak against the Mystics and dents their fine record in Rotorua where they had won 14 of 15 games.
The Mystics’ comeback was unexpected after they lost Silver Ferns shooter Cathrine Latu to a rolled ankle late in the third quarter. Latu had shot 15 from 15, improving her championship-leading success rate for the season to 93.9 per cent (155 from 165).
Replacement Paula Griffith combined slickly with Tutaia and veteran centre Laura Langman over the final quarter, cutting through the Magic circle defence of Leana de Bruin and Kristiana Manu’a which had been impressive.
After a tight first quarter, a six-goal run midway through the second stanza helped push the Magic 28-21 clear at halftime.
They were led by another impressive display from wing attack Grace Rasmussen while goal shoot Jo Harten shot 23/27 and Ellen Halpenny 21/26.
However, the attack links broke down in the final quarter as pressure forced numerous turnovers.