Awatere awaiting breakthrough premier win

Centre Nicole Witterick has been in fine form for the “Tussock Jumpers” this season. Photo: Peter Jones.

The Awatere team may have been on a premier netball rollercoaster for the past three rounds, but spirits remain high in the “Tussock Jumpers” camp.

After being promoted to the top club ranks after the first round in 2018 they have doggedly clung to their premier status, surviving promotion/relegation games after round two in 2018 and round one this year to remain indoors.

Awatere have yet to register a win during their three terms in the top echelon although, based on their recent efforts, that breakthrough victory may not be far away.

Head coach Kate Shadbolt, speaking after her charges had pushed first round winners Harlequins hard in a 56-45 loss on Tuesday, felt they were making progress.

“I feel they are improving every week,” she said, “they have a few down games then they bounce back … I think it is just a lack of confidence in themselves.

“It is a mental thing … they had belief [tonight] after coming off a win on Sunday, their fitness is good and the combinations are gelling.”

Shadbolt said their aim was clear this round. “Just to get a win probably, to show the girls that they can do it. We would like to stay indoors all season, I am unavailable on Saturdays so if they want me as their coach they need to stay up [in premier grade],” she added with a broad smile.

Harlequins were joined by Tokomaru and Marlborough Girls’ College as winners when the second round began at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.

The closest game of the night was the first on court, MGC holding on against a fast-finishing Pelorus to prevail 44-40.

The students had a 16-8 third quarter to thank for their victory after just one goal separated the sides at halftime. Pelorus clawed five goals back in the final 15 minutes to claim a well-deserved bonus point but it was the young team’s night.

Star of the show for MGC was young defender Mya Wiapo whose skill in the air and anticipation belied her tender age.

Eleri James-Sitters had a top game in midcourt, providing pace and finesse when required, while shooter Anna Gardiner was again on target, dropping in 31 goals from 35 attempts to ensure turnover ball was not wasted.

Danelle Moffatt was again a tower of strength at the back for Pelorus, with Jenna Gilbert and Oriana Houra standing out both on attack and defence.

The Quins v Awatere match-up was expected to be relatively one-sided, but the Tussocks were up for the battle and took the game to their more illustrious opponents. They lost the first quarter by one, the third by one and the fourth by two but came undone in the second period of play.

Awatere’s inability to convert their own possession into points and make the most of turnovers created by relentless defence meant Quins were able to pick up a seven-goal advantage which they maintained until the final whistle.

The night’s final encounter saw a red-hot Tokomaru outfit up against SMOG, who struggled through the first round.

However, the Ladies in Black showed they were not about to be overpowered by the Picton side. After losing the first quarter 18-14, SMOG lifted their game in the second, winning it by eight to take a four-goal lead into halftime.

However it is one thing to slow Toko’s scoring duo of Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika for one quarter, quite another to do it for the rest of the match. Their ability to score quickly was very much to the fore in the third stanza, which Toko won by nine to regain control and win 72-59. A 19-11 final stanza merely underlined their scoring threat.


Scores from Tuesday:

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 44 (Isabella Rohloff 7/13, Anna Gardiner 37/41) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 40 (Olivia Pinkerton 20/32, Jordan Peipi 11/21, Kelly West 9/11). Quarter scores (winning team first): 9-11, 10-7, 16-8, 9-14.

Harlequins Radich Law 56 (Lauren Murray 36/41, Hayley Marfell 20/28) Awatere 45 (Tracee Lee 18/26, Aimee Jones 27/40). Quarter scores: 16-10, 24-11, 24-10, 25-8. Quarter scores: 15-14, 14-7, 14-13, 13-11.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 72 (Haze Tepuia 48/49, Gemma Hika 24/30) SMOG Good Home 59 (Lucy Barrett 25/31, Kate Gaudin 34/36). Quarter scores: 18-14, 13-21, 22-13, 19-11

Round two standings: Harlequins 3, Tokomaru 3, MGC 3, Pelorus 1, SMOG 0, Awatere 0.

Draw for tonight: SMOG v Harlequins 6.15pm; Pelorus v Tokomaru 7.30pm; MGC v Awatere 8pm.

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