The top three stretched their advantage over the competition in round 9, dealing their counterparts losses in a round that was decided by just nine cumulative goals to add to a hotly contested ANZ Premiership race.
The Stars produced an incredible fourth quarter blitz to remain at the top of the ladder, defeating the Pulse in their return to Auckland.
It was a great bounce-back after two losses from their previous three matches dampened the incredible start to the season they had.
With the in-form Aliyah Dunn in action, the Stars sent Anna Harrison to goalkeeper and she worked brilliantly to nullify her opponent’s threat all day.
Dunn scored 39 of her 46 attempts – a great mark – but was pushed further out of the circle on occasion and struggled to control the post. On the counter, Dunn was brilliant in intercepting and getting breaks started for the Stars.
At the other end, captain Maia Wilson was simply superb. The Silver Fern goal-shooter scored 37 goals, but worked further up the court when required during transition. Her chemistry with Gina Crampton again proved the difference for much of the contest. Crampton had 30 goal assists and 20 centre pass receives for the match.
The lead changed hands numerous times before the class of Stars mid-courters proved the decisive factor in the final stanza to run away with a 55-53 victory.
Wing defence Lisa Mathers was the player of the match – her ability to hold up transition play and cut off angles of attack from the Pulse was sensational all day.
With the win, the Northern Stars stretch their record to 7-2 on the season and hold a one game advantage over the second place Mystics.
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Mystics hold off Magic
The Mystics held on to second place in the standings with victory over the Magic 63-68 and lift the Hobbiton Cup for the first time.
Australian star Caitlin Bassett has recaptured her form that had deserted her in the previous 12 months. She converted 36 of her 41 attempts, and added two rebounds as well on the day.
For the Magic, a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Steel last week is compounded by this result. The side still sits winless since the first round but will look to right the ship against the Tactix next week.
Tactix run over by Steel
For the Tactix, their season has gone from bad to worse with a last-gasp loss to the Steel; the 45-47 result in Nelson has them behind the ledger at 4-5 in fourth place after round 9 of the ANZ Premiership season.
George Fisher proved the match winner once again for the Steel, scoring 40 of her 44 goal attempts as her side raced past the Steel in the dying stages to capture the win in one of the great finishes of 2021.
A do-or-die match against bottom-placed Magic awaits the Tactix in round 10, while the Steel face top-of-the-table Stars in Dunedin for the match of the round.