The MG Mystics started and finished with a bang to keep a firm grip on the top of the table when despatching the Trident Homes Tactix 69-58 in Christchurch on Saturday.
Through the middle two quarters there was nothing separating the pair with the Tactix competing on even terms but dominant first and last stanzas were key for the well credentialled Mystics, in the rescheduled Round 5 match.
The Tactix were much improved from their 19-goal loss to the same opponent a week ago, the Mystics tested at times but having plenty of firepower to retrieve any threatening situations.
The only downside for the Mystics was the sight of influential shooter Grace Nweke limping off with an ankle injury six minutes from fulltime.
The Mystics quickly slipped out to a 3-0 lead to set the tone, seamlessly finding their attacking momentum with easy efficiency.
Mercurial wing attack Peta Toeava showcased her diverse mix of feeds into the waiting hands of shooting target Nweke, the visitors having few problems getting the ball into handy scoring positions.
Finding it slightly harder to penetrate in their attacking third and trailing by five, the Tactix finally got some turnover opportunities to close the gap. The Mystics struck back immediately with three straight goals, the tall figure of Kate Lloyd taking over from Kelera Nawai-Caucau at goalkeeper in a bid to stem the flow.
On the back of their impressive attacking unit, the Mystics forged an 18-13 lead at the first break.
Struggling to hit top gear this season, the Tactix came back for the second quarter with a high degree of intent while producing some quality passages.
With Te Paea Selby-Rickit conducting play on attack and well supported by Samon Nathan, the goal attack got through a mountain of work while also finding her range from near and far under the hoop.
There was real flow on attack from the home side, their release of quick ball resulting in an increasingly confident Ellie Bird under the shooting hoop as the Tactix reeled in the deficit to level up the scores.
However, a couple of late blemishes and unable to stymie the Mystics scoring, it was the visitors who kept their noses in front when leading 34-30 at the main break.
The attacking nature of the game remained on course during another high-scoring stanza in the third 15-minute instalment, the Tactix impressing with their ability to stay in the contest.
In contrasting styles, the home side benefitted from a steady, patient approach while the Mystics launched their circle feeds from long and short range, Toeava again being the mastermind behind the near-immaculate service to the high-scoring Nweke.
Filda Vui took over from Monica Falkner at goal attack midway through as the Mystics maintained their four-goal buffer. The teenaged Carys Stythe followed shortly after at the defence end for Phoenix Karaka as the teams went goal-for-goal for long periods.
The Tactix were able to increase the volume of ball into Bird’s hands, the tall shooter building throughout to deliver a rock-solid effort. Pouncing on a couple of rare turnover opportunities, the Tactix closed to within two before giving the impetus straight back.
In a drawn third quarter, the Mystics were able to retain their slim advantage when leading 51-47 at the last break, with the game still in the balance.