Close encounters of the netball kind

Awatere players Aimee Jones, left, and Kim Andrews shut out MGC defender Taryn Breen at the circle edge.

Premier netball returned to Stadium 2000 on Tuesday with three entertaining matches, all decided by six goals or less.

The evening’s top match saw unbeaten sides Tokomaru and Harlequins go head-to-head. After an hour of tight, see-sawing action the reigning champions Tokomaru came out on top 49-45.

First up was a clash between two sides yet to register a win over the opening three rounds. Marlborough Girls’ College A met Awatere and another close, intense tussle eventuated, the students eventually getting their noses in front late in the final quarter to prevail 46-43.

The evening’s third match featured Pelorus and SMOG and once again there wasn’t much in it. Pelorus came out on top 53-47 but were pushed throughout.

The Toko v Quins game featured an interesting clash of styles – the big question being, could Harlequins dent the prolific scoring of Toko marksman Haze Tepuia? Although the lofty goal shoot produced another 100 percent effort, landing all 39 of his goal attempts, Quins did enough outside the circle to limit his potency. In fact Harlequins enjoyed a lion’s share of possession, putting up 73 shots to Toko’s 52 attempts.

Consequently the game was close throughout, Toko leading by just one at the 45-minute mark. As the match reached its conclusion it became a case of who would blink first and that team was Quins. A couple of errant passes, a few missed shots and suddenly Toko had scored six of the final seven goals, allowing them a winning edge which they held to the final whistle.

Among their best was Gemma Hika, who complemented Tepuia superbly and defended hard at the attacking end. The Wilson sisters, Hana, Kayla and Dana brought energy to mid court while defenders Eden Te Huki and Michaela Boaz ensured there was pressure throughout the Quins’ circle.

Bridget Gane was at the heart of the Quins’ effort, orchestrating proceedings with well-timed passes, while the versatile Simone Pedersen made a fine job at both WA and GA.

Defenders Jackson McLaren, Olivia Robinson and Katie Cunningham were handed the job of defending Te Puia and handled the task well, restricting his impact on the match.

The evening’s first match was also a nail-biter. Both sides were desperate to claim their first win, although there is no relegation after the first of the two rounds this year.

With pride at stake Awatere and MGC went at it and it was anybody’s game until the final stages. MGC led by one after the first quarter, MGC were ahead by one at halftime and the scores were level at the three quarter mark.

However, MGC lifted their intensity slightly in the last 15 minutes, led by defenders Mya Wiapo, Taryn Breen and Oakley Tepuia. They helped restrict Awatere’s flow of ball, meaning MGC put up 22 shots in the final stanza to Awatere’s 11. With both sides shooting at a similar percentage there was only going to be one winner.

Shooter Aimee Jones was again a standout for Awatere, along with Nicole Witterick, who never stopped working in the defensive circle.

Pelorus, led by Oriana Houra, Jenna Seabrook and Laura Murphy, made a flying start to the third match, racing to a 17-11 lead in the first quarter.  However, SMOG battled back, losing the second by two, drawing the third and winning the final quarter. Kate Gaudin’s superb shooting ensured SMOG made the most of the ball they received, while Karli Murphy again stood out in the unfamiliar defensive role and Ella Donald’s speed and vision stood out in midcourt.



Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 49 (Haze Tepuia 39/39, Gemma Hika 10/13) Harlequins Radich Law 45 (Lauren Murray 30/43, Stacey Hopkins 10/17, Simone Pedersen 5/13). Quarter scores (winning team first): 10-9, 11-10, 15-16, 13-10.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 53 (Paige Lovell 40/57, Olivia Pinkerton 13/20) SMOG Good Home 47 (Kate Gaudin 24/27, Anna Gardiner 23/32). Quarter scores: 17-11, 11-9, 13-13, 12-14.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 46 (Taila Town 25/37, Fiaalii Solomona 8/12, Naia Lawrence 13/24) Awatere 43 (Aimee Jones 37/50, Ashley Childs 6/14). Quarter scores: 12-11, 10-12, 11-12, 13-8.

Standings: Tokomaru 12, Harlequins 10, Pelorus 10, SMOG 5, MGC 3, Awatere 1.

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