Tue, May 21, 2024 11:02 PM

Netballers step up


Peter Jones

The stakes went up a notch when round two of Marlborough premier netball got underway at Stadium 2000 tonight.

Competition points were up for grabs in what is now a six-team competition, Awatere stepping up from grade one to ensure an even number of sides.

The Tussock Jumpers, coming off a diet of 40-minute matches, showed they will be competitive in the top tier, despite a 74-35 loss to Harlequins Totalspan.

Last year’s champions Pelorus also flexed their muscles, taking care of Marlborough Girls’ College 58-29, while the evening’s closest match took place on court two.

Harlequins Fairweathers, who battled through 2023 without a victory, broke their drought with a nail-biting 46-45 victory over Tokomaru.

The match was close throughout, Quins holding a four-goal lead at three-quarter time but being run down by Toko in the final quarter. With 30 seconds remaining, Toko GS Gemma Hika levelled the scores, leaving Quins to have the final say.

Awatere centre Nicole Witterick prepares to throw a one-handed pass.

They held their nerve to move the ball to prolific shooter Jorja Bacchus, who landed her 38th goal and sparked delight on the Quins’ bench.

Her team-mates all stepped up. In defence Mahina Henry-Campbell and Aston Underwood pressured their rivals throughout, creating a series of turnovers.

Their attack was led by centre Zara Jopson, GA Ramona Waikato and Kaya Walsh, who ensured Bacchus had plenty of quality ball to work with.

Both sets of shooters boasted high percentages. Gemma Hika and Dakota Tepuia operated smoothly for Toko, but had only 50 goal attempts compared to their opponent’s 59, a vital difference in the final outcome.

Defenders Ayla Looms and Teish O’Connell worked hard for the Picton crew, along with the Wilson twins in midcourt.

The evening’s early game provided a big ask for Awatere, up against the form team of the first round in their return to Tuesday night play. However, they stepped up and showed, in patches, enough cohesion and scoring potential to suggest they can compete at this level.

Leading the way was energetic centre Nicole Witterick, while GS Anna Hewson returned to premier play with an 84 percent shooting average.

Also back in the fray was defender Sarah Hewson, after a lengthy break, while Hannah Buck, Ashley Childs, Harriet Williams and Bryar Ennerson worked hard throughout.

Pelorus midcourter Stormy Tupara in action. 

Harlequins made changes aplenty, giving all 11 players court time. Wendy Trolove was again outstanding in defence, alongside Poppy Lane and Olivia Robinson. Jack Frew created space in the circle adeptly and shot quickly and accurately, while Zoe Scaife impressed in midcourt.

The final match pitted Pelorus against the MGC students. Even without shooting mainstay Paige Lovell, Pelorus were in dominant form. Cara Gallop and Lesieli Taufa shared duties under the hoop, while the well-oiled midcourt of Brittney Lyons, Jordy Peipi, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Stormy Tupara provided a reliable route to the goal circle.

Ella Smith and Oriana Houra were quick to pounce on errant passes or loose ball at the defensive end.

MGC battled hard but were continually plagued by turnovers. They put up just 38 shots, as opposed to 86 from Pelorus, a huge imbalance in possession.

However, there was no shortage of effort from the students, led by Hazel Glover, Liz Pousima, Izzy Tupouto’a, Paige O’Brien and Sophia Nicholas.

Tokomaru defender Teish McConnell.

Netball scores from May 21:

Harlequins Totalspan 74 (Jack Frew 42/52, Wiri Bristowe 24/31, Lauren Murray 8/14) Awatere 35 (Anna Hewson 32/38, Ashley Childs 2/3, Nicole Witterick 1/3). Quarter scores (winning team first): 17-8, 18-11, 18-10, 21-6.

Harlequins Fairweathers 46 (Jorja Bacchus 38/45, Ramona Waikato 8/14) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch 45 (Gemma Hika 29/31, Dakota Tepuia 16/19). Quarter scores: 11-12, 12-8, 12-11, 11-14.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 58 (Cara Gallop 10/20, Lesieli Taufa 48/66) Marlborough Girls’ College Liquid Action 29 (Anel Moli 10/14, Hazel Glover 9/11, Sophia Nicholas 10/13). Quarter scores: 14-7, 14-9, 14-8, 16-5.

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