OPOTIKI’S Monica Falkner and her Magic team-mates played the game of the season for their captain on Sunday afternoon against the Mystics.
It was the last home game for Splice Construction Magic captain Casey Kopua who announced her impending retirement at the end of the 2019 season. Renamed the Casey Kopua Arena, the match was also bolstered by a Hobbiton themed movie set and playing strip.
The Magic rose to the occasion against a fired up Northern Mystics side with a full-time score of 61-52.
Falkner was at her athletic best taking a lead role in the attacking end for the Magic. Her speed and agility was in top gear with her often sending a long pass into goal shooter Kelsey McPhee and then just seconds later being goal-side for any rebound.
McPhee was named most valuable player with her 86 percent shooting average. However, 23-year-old Falkner contributed greatly to the attacking end with 70 percent shooting accuracy, 15 centre pass receives and 20 circle edge feeds to McPhee along with some deft footwork providing options for the attackers to work the ball into the circle.
She was also hard on defence picking up a clean intercept in the centre third.
The Magic shooters did have to deal with some top-level defence by returning Mystics captain Phoenix Karaka back from concussion.
At the other end of the court, captain Kopua and goal-keeper Kelly Jury made life tough for the shooters Bailey Mes and schoolgirl shooter Grace Nweke. Kopua again led from the front working hard and picking up two clean intercepts, four deflections with two gains and three centre pass receives.
Her never-ending presence in the mid-court giving Magic attackers a clear option at each pass when taking the ball through the court.
The Magic proved it was their day to turn on a full 60 minute performance and not even an injury to centre Sam Sinclair upset their flow in the second half. The injury saw Ariana
Cable-Dixon move to centre and Opotiki player Simmon Howe on as wing attack.
McPhee and Falkner have built strong connections during the season and Howe picked up from where she left off a few rounds back slotting into wing attack.
The Magic retained the Hobbiton Cup, but more importantly, secured a great win for their captain who celebrates her 17th and final season with the franchise.
Fourth on the ANZ Premiership table, the Magic play their final game this Sunday, May 19 against the Tactix.
Magic players will be looking for another win to bolster their confidence and ensure legend Kopua bows out as she should, but there is also the impending announcement of the Silver Ferns Netball World Cup side on May 23.