Tue, Apr 30, 2024 10:51 PM

Premier netball up and running


Peter Jones

Enthusiasm levels were high when the 2024 premier netball season got underway with a double-header at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 tonight.

With just five teams contesting this season’s competition, just two matches were contested under the stadium roof, Marlborough Girls’ College have the first round bye in what is a grading round.

Both contests on opening day ended in comfortable victories to the favoured teams, last year’s finalists Pelorus and Harlequins, but not before they were pushed hard in the early stages by their rivals.

The first match saw Harlequins Totalspan take on Tokomaru, both sides boasting a couple of new faces.

Quins, who were beaten by a single goal in last season’s thrilling final, have added Jack Frew, plus former MGC players Delyth James-Sitters, Zoe Scaife and Poppy Lane to their roster, while former defender Olivia Robinson returns.

Tokomaru welcomed back defender Gi Burtenshaw and newcomer Teish O’Connell in midcourt while Dakota Tepuia steps up to premier grade.

Harlequins Fairweathers' player Aston Underwood prepares to fire a pass down court.

Although Quins moved away in the second half to claim a commanding 62-41 victory, the first 30 minutes was much tighter. Quins led by two at the first break, then by four at halftime, before shaking off the rust and their rivals as combinations began to gel.

With Wiri Bristowe a reliable target at the attacking end, and Wendy Trolove anchoring their defense, an 18-5 third quarter put the final result beyond doubt.

Despite the final margin Toko have plenty to build on. The return of the Wilson sisters, Kayla and Hana, added plenty to the mix, along with tireless defender Ayla Looms and primary shooter Gemma Hika.

The evening’s second match also featured two sides with several personnel changes from last season.

Harlequins Fairweathers, who were unable to win a match last year, have picked up former Awatere attacker Aimee Jones, Ramona Waikato and Kayla Collins from the other Quins team, Mahina Henry-Campbell from Tokomaru and newcomer Heidi Cuttle.

Pelorus defender Oriana Houra tries to block Jorja Bacchus's shot.

Their opponents, the defending champions Pelorus Edridge Contracting, who have added Oriana Houra, Stormy Tupara, Cara Gallop and Kelly West to their side, eventually came out on top 63-39.

Paige Lovell was again a dominant figure at the attacking end, with help from Megan Cosgrove, while the midcourt combination of Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Brittney Lyons and Tupara did not take long to click into gear.

Jones was a physical presence on attack for Quins, her combination with Jorja Bacchus late in the game offering a glimpse of the future.

Aston Underwood was a lively defender while Waikato showed her versatility and skills in several positions.

Next Tuesday the Harlequins sides meet, while MGC take on Pelorus.

Pelorus centre Brittney Lyons feeds into the circle.


Harlequins Totalspan 62 (Wiri Bristowe 46/64, Jack Frew 8/10, Lauren Murray 8/17) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch 41 (Gemma Hika 32/38, Dakota Tepuia 8/10, Teish O’Connell 0/2, Kayla Wilson 1/3) Quarter scores (winning team first): 15-13, 13-11, 18-5, 16-12.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 63 (Paige Lovell 47/66, Megan Cosgrove 16/23) Harlequins Fairweathers 39 (Aimee Jones 14/24, Jorja Bacchus 24/27, Ramona Waikato 1/4). Quarter scores: 15-7, 13-14, 16-8, 19-10.

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