THE Northern Mystics have turned the netball world on its head.
Not only were they the first New Zealand team to win in Australia in the trans-Tasman Netball Championship this season, after beating the Melbourne Vixens on Sunday, they did it with a tactic akin to a rugby union lineout.
After spending weeks practising the move, variously called "the hoist" or "the chairlift", in closed sessions at training, the Mystics defenders unveiled the tactic in front of a stunned crowd at Hisense Arena.
It involved goalkeeper Kayla Cullen lifting athletic goal defender Anna Harrison into the air, where she was able to intercept shots above the height of the net.
But rather than call foul, Netball Australia's national director of umpiring and 16-time Australian representative Chris Burton was impressed by the play.
"I think the defenders need praise for trying something different," Burton said.
"It has caused much discussion and there's a lot of emotion with regard to its fairness and its legality.
"But the move is perfectly legal under the rules of game, as long as no contact is made with the ring."
Burton said the rule was: Any defender who is 0.9m, or three feet, from the player with the ball may attempt to intercept, and that interception may take place at any point in time while the ball is free, in the air or on the ground.
"What Harrison has done that's different is to take it at the point of drop, so she has taken the intercept just before it's gone into the ring," Burton said.
"It's an intercept. It's unorthodox, but it's not illegal."
Illegal it might not be, but Queensland Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said the move wasn't in the spirit of the game.
"If Mother Nature doesn't give you the skill, and the skill is aid-assisted, it shouldn't be allowed," Jencke said.
Burton believes it's now up to the attackers to counter the lift.
"The thing that everybody forgets is there must now be a free player in the goal circle belonging to the other team," she said.