The Stars have fallen short 56-51 in an enthralling ANZ Premiership match with the Mystics in game one of the Northern Challenge series in Auckland.

The Stars were determined to show they could go toe to toe with their cross-city rivals and after an early hiccup, started to play some composed and fluid netball.

The Mystics showed their class, with veterans Peta Toeava and Phoenix Karaka showcasing some impressive touches, as the Mystics showed poise and calm with the ball to produce a strong opening quarter.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was in amongst everything, doing all she could to spark the Stars' attack with some incisive passes splitting the Mystics defence and giving Maia Wilson and Monica Falkner great opportunities in front of goal, with the Stars trailing 17-13 after quarter one.

The made a defensive shift in the second quarter and implemented a zone defence tactic which frazzled the previously cool heads of the Mystics and mistakes started to creep in.

The Stars then pounced on their opportunities, led by Kate Burley who was like a lioness attacking a gazelle as she picked off her third intercept of the half.

The Stars cut into the deficit and after some swift play, suddenly found themselves in front for the first time in the contest.

The Mystics came back with a counter punch, as both sides furiously traded blows, with an exhilarating first half ending and the Mystics holding a 29-27 advantage. 

The Stars produced an electric start to the second half, continuing with their strangling approach on defence, which kept the Mystics under pressure and making mistakes.

The Stars gleefully snapped up possession and went on a goal scoring run, which saw them wrestle back the lead and find themselves ahead by three midway through the third period.

Much like the rest of the match, the Mystics came roaring back and went on a run of their own, snatching back the lead and up 41-39 heading into the last quarter.

It was the first time the two teams had met since last year's grand final and with a raucous crowd in attendance, the fourth quarter brought with it a winner takes all atmosphere as the two rivals jostled for victory.

The Mystics showed why they are the reigning champions, holding their nerve at crunch time and clinging on to their lead.

Much like it has been for the Stars all season, they never gave up and came agonizingly close to a first win of their campaign, but it was the Mystics who were victorious 56-51.

Kate Burley was immense at the defensive end and awarded the player of the match award, after latching onto six intercepts, while well assisted by Khanyé-Lii Munro-Nonoa who had a fantastic outing.

The Stars now travel to the capital to play the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse on Saturday. 

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