In the Spotlight: First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic

Champion Data, Wednesday, 4 May 2011.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic is, to put it simply, a record breaking team. Three of its players were amongst the first to play 50 ANZ Championship games, they have arguably some of the best players to ever play ANZ Championship netball, and now they are the only team to qualify for all four Finals Series. The ultimate prize of being crowned champions has so far eluded them but no one can question the WBOP Magic's consistent performance over the past four seasons.

The WBOP Magic has played 60 games for 43 wins and 17 losses, giving them a win / loss ratio of 72%. The highest score they have achieved was 72, recorded back in Round 9 2010 against the Canterbury Tactix. This match also produced their biggest winning margin of 20 points. Their lowest score was 38, recorded in Round 10 this season; however they were still able to win the match. They currently average 56 goals per game, conceding an average of 51.

The lowest position the WBOP Magic has ever finished is third and they have made two Grand Finals during this time, in 2008 and 2010, losing both narrowly to the NSW Swifts and the Adelaide Thunderbirds respectively. 

Out of their 13 games in 2011, 11 players have played seven games or more with four players playing all 13. These four players include three of the biggest names in the game, Laura Langman, Irene van Dyk and Casey Williams. Julianna Naoupu is the other player to hit the court all 13 times, controlling the pivotal role of Goal Attack. 

As mentioned above, the WBOP Magic are lucky enough to have three of the game's biggest stars on the court every single week. But the WBOP Magic is not successful purely because of the contribution from these players. So who are some of the lesser known players that are contributing to the juggernaut that is the WBOP Magic? Statistically, three names that stand out in season 2011 are Julianna Naoupu, Jessica Tuki and Peta Scholz. 

Julianna Naoupu
New to the WBOP Magic after spending the first three ANZ Championship seasons at the Southern Steel, Julianna Naoupu has made a home at Goal Attack. She has played a role in all 13 games this season and has scored 210 goals from 271 attempts, finishing with a very creditable shooting percentage of 77.5%. She is second for goal assists and centre pass receives at the club, recording with 61 and 134 respectively.  Considering her pivotal role and the amount of time the ball is in Naoupu's hands, she has given away only 50 penalties at 3.85 per match, the fourth lowest average at the club, and has turned the ball over only 29 times.

Jessica Tuki
Another pivotal player in the WBOP Magic lineup, Jessicia Tuki's wing attack work this year has been outstanding. Tuki did not make the court in the first game of the season way back in Round 2 but has since been a member of the on court brigade for every game. Going into the finals, Tuki has 108 goal assists, ranked second at the club behind Langman, and is leading the club with centre pass receives, recording 159 for the season. She also has recorded six intercepts, 10 deflections, 41 penalties and 35 turnovers. Tuki will no doubt be vital to the WBOP Magic achieving ultimate success this season by maintaining her mid court presence.

Peta Scholz
Controlling the defensive end of the WBOP Magic midcourt is Australian born Peta Scholz, enjoying her second season in the ANZ Championship. Scholz has been a consistent performer in the 12 games she has played this season, constantly delivering good stats in centre pass receives, intercepts and deflections. She has recorded 82 centre pass receives, which included three double figure games in Rounds 3 (11), 4 (13) and 11 (12). Scholz has taken an intercept in all but three of her games, making it 15 for the season, and she has deflected the ball on 47 occasions.  Scholz has given away exactly 100 penalties for the season but has turned the ball over only 14 times.

The WBOP Magic once again find themselves in the thick of finals action. The culmination of a season's entire work is just around the corner, where they have every chance to take that one extra step and finally get their name engraved on the ANZ Championship trophy. They have been the most consistent team since the introduction of the Trans-Tasman competition, which is a credit to Head Coach Noeline Taurua and all her fellow staff. Taurua and the WBOP Magic organisation have found a way to ensure their superstars are on the court at each and every game. Add to that, their ability over the last four seasons to successfully develop potential and emerging talent into out-and-out world class netballers. Whilst two second placings and a third are great results for almost any sporting organisation in any elite sport over a three year period, winning the entire competition is now essential. They must look to their consistent performance over past seasons and channel it into that one game in three week's time. Put simply, a title is beckoning. Otherwise, four years of hard work could possibly amount to nothing.