Holding on to slim hopes of clinching a home Grand Final, the Robinhood Stars needed all their poise to stamp out a late-charging Splice Construction Magic before pocketing a 58-54 win in Auckland on Wednesday.

The Stars, who were cruising towards the much-needed high-scoring outcome required as part of the improbably equation of progressing to Grand Final hosting rights, a 13-goal lead through a rampant first half was trimmed substantially by game’s end.

In a classic game of two halves, the Magic would rue their inconsistencies of the first half before storming back with a form reversal to win the second half in the rescheduled Round 5 match. Running hot, the final whistle came too soon for the Magic but not soon enough for a relieved Stars.

Celebrating Heritage Round, which had been scheduled for Round 5, the Stars paid tribute to South Auckland’s first national league team, the Cometz, by wearing a replica of their famous dress.

The home side were without Elle Temu for this outing, the in-form goal defence nursing an ankle injury, but the Stars still presenting with a more than accomplished defence line of Holly Fowler, Kayla Johnson and Anna Harrison.

The Stars got off to a rollicking start, with both ends  – shooter Maia Wilson and Harrison – being prominent figures in helping produce the goods to push the Stars into an early lead. The Magic replied in positive fashion with shooters Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio moving the circle well but the visitors were handicapped by too many loose turnovers.

Growing in stature, the Stars built a handy advantage before the Magic stopped the rot to leave the home side well-positioned when leading 17-12 at the first break.

Replacing injured shooter Jamie Hume in the opening quarter, Amorangi Malesala slotted in seamlessly as the Stars dominance continued on the resumption. The home side enjoyed an increasingly bigger share of the ball through turnover opportunities which they made full use off.

The Magic’s attacking third was under constant pressure where the presence of Harrison was always a threat, her ability to jump and disrupt the shot keeping the Magic shooters on constant notice.

Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan provided a swift and accurate service to the Stars shooting duo as the floodgates looked to open. However, Magic hung on gamely, Mes reverting to considerable success from range but the team overall, still suffering from failing to nail their turnover opportunities.

A late quarter surge pushed the Stars out to a 33-24 lead at the main break.

Delivering their best quarter of the match, the Magic denied the Stars the free-scoring opportunities they had enjoyed earlier in the match.

It quickly became about damage control for the Stars and with some stellar defensive work they were able to fend off a late Magic challenge and finish with a vital win.

There's little time for rest for the Stars, with the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel meeting them tomorrow night in Auckland. A win will guarantee the Stars home advantage for next week's elimination final.

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