Highlighting their depth of talent, the MG Mystics rattled off a masterful 70-51 win over the Trident Homes Tactix in the first of four games to be staged at Pulman Arena over the weekend.
The Mystics showcased their talented roster with the seamless rotation of all 11 throughout the match while building an imposing lead. The imperious Mystics had knocked the sting out of the Tactix shorty before the halftime break and from there, flexed their considerable muscle.
After slotting 45 from 49 in 45 minutes, the Mystics had the luxury of resting prolific shooter Grace Nweke for the final quarter, the job done as her team-mates steered the team home.
Competitive at the start and finish, the Tactix were dismantled in a ruthless middle two quarters, leaving them unable to stem the Mystics impetus.
Celebrating their 50th appearances, Nweke and centre Tayla Earle took their places in the Mystics staring seven while there were no surprises in an experienced Tactix line-up.
In the first meeting of the pair since last year’s Grand Final, the defending champion Mystics picked up where they left off to gradually work their way into a position of dominance.
Highlighting the defensive nature of the opening, scoring was light early on with a flurry of turnovers getting proceedings underway.
Once into their groove, both teams were rewarded with long feeds to respective shooters Nweke and Ellie Bird as the teams went goal-for-goal before a late rally pushed the Mystics out to a 12-10 lead at the first break.
In an ominous sign for the Tactix, the Mystics showed their intent on the resumption when reeling off the first three goals. But a Karin Burger steal helped the southerners maintain their presence.
But it was battle for the Tactix, who had to work overtime against an always-threatening Mystics side, who were menacing across all areas. Captain Kimiora Poi and Burger were industrious performers for the Tactix but a rash of untimely soft turnovers proved costly.
Driven by the positive energy and silky skills of midcourters Earle and Claire O’Brien, the Mystics excelled at both ends of the court, punishing anything loose dished out by their opponents to gradually build on their lead.
With heavy schedules for teams looming, youngster Carys Stythe (goal defence) and goal attack Filda Vui were injected for the Mystics midway through the stanza as the Tactix struggled to stem the flow heading Nweke’s way.
Piling on 19 goals during the stanza, Nweke spearheaded the onslaught with 26 goals from 27 attempts as the Mystics shot out to a 31-24 lead at the main break.
There was no let-up from a relentless Mystics, who compounded the Tactix misery with an explosive third quarter.
Having the luxury of introducing mercurial midcourter Elisapeta Toeava and equally effective wing defence Fa’amu Ioane from the bench, the Mystics rampaged through a one-sided third stanza.
Toeava made her customary instant connection with Nweke while Vui was comfortable shooting from range as the Mystics went on multiple goal-scoring runs through pace, precision and efficiency.
On the back on seven unanswered goals, the Mystics hit 50, before rolling out to a 55-39 lead at the last break while slotting 23 shots through an imposing third quarter.