Marlborough Girls’ College pulled off the biggest upset of the abbreviated 2020 premier netball season at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night, beating Harlequins 46-39.
Quins went into the match as firm favourite, having recorded only one loss in the first round and won their previous encounter with the students by 17 goals. On the other hand, MGC had failed to fire in the first five weeks, picking up just a single win against bottom-placed Awatere.
However, the sides’ respective records meant nothing on Tuesday, MGC showing from the outset they had come to play.
Their defence, spearheaded by Taryn Breen and Mya Wiapo, with help from Oakley Tepuia, was inspirational, snapping up rebounds and pouncing on the many loose passes that came their way.
At the other end Taila Town and Fiaalii Solomona recorded high shooting percentages, Solomona in particular efficient on the rebound.
In midcourt Anika Moetaua, Mele Moli, Millie Wensley were patient on attack and hungry on defence, helping provide the students’ best effort of the season.
By halftime they had forged a five-goal lead, which seemed unlikely to be enough against a polished Harlequins combination who were bound to fight back. MGC had stretched their lead to eight at the three quarter mark but a 9-2 run by the Quins saw them draw within one halfway through the final stanza. However MGC steadied the ship and finished with six unanswered goals as their rivals began to push passes with the clock running down.
For Quins it was an evening to forget, class players making rare mistakes throughout the court and looking disjointed in attack.
The introduction of Jackson McLaren and Mikayla Avant added energy to their cause in the second spell but there was no doubt the night belonged to the MGC crew.
The early match was also a close encounter. Pelorus beat SMOG 51-42 in a game featuring several goal-scoring streaks. After an even first quarter Pelorus put together a 7-0 run to establish a six-goal lead at halftime. However SMOG quickly repeated the dose, a 9-3 run bringing them within two goals midway through the third quarter.
Pelorus were not to be outdone though, producing a 10-3 run at the start of period four to set up what in the end was a comfortable victory.
The Pelorus midcourt of Jenna Seabrook, Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi were outstanding, along with defender Oriana Houra and shooter Paige Lovell.
For SMOG, Ella Donald added energy in midcourt, alongside the hard-working Anna Thomas, while Karli Murphy never stopped trying at goal defence.
Meanwhile Tokomaru continued on their winning way, overwhelming Awatere 83-41. The first round winners led 42-17 at halftime, enjoying a welter of possession compared to their rivals.
Overall they put up 102 shots to Awatere’s 65 and, with such accurate shooters as Haze Tepuia (57 from 62) and Gemma Hika (26 from 40) they were out on their own early.
Although Hannah McCabe and Aimee Jones battled hard in the attacking circle, Awatere struggled to overcome the defensive capabilities of Lily Tiueti, Chloe Devir and Michaela Boaz.
The loss of standout midcourter Nicole Witterick with a knee injury late in the game also blunted their potency.
Pelorus Edridge Contracting 51 (Paige Lovell 35/54, Olivia Pinkerton 13/17, Courtney Avery 3/9) SMOG Good Home 42 (Kate Gaudin 13/16, Anna Gardiner 27/37, Isabella Rohloff 2/2). Quarter scores (winning team first): 13-11, 13-9, 12-14, 13-8.
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 83 (Haze Tepuia 57/62, Gemma Hika 26/40) Awatere 41 (Aimee Jones 19/33, Hannah McCabe 19/26, Ashley Childs 1/2, Elizabeth Solly 2/4). Quarter scores: 20-10, 22-7, 19-14, 22-10.
Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 46 (Taila Town 24/31, Fiaalii Solomona 22/30) Harlequins Radich Law 39 (Lauren Murray 22/28, Stacey Hopkins 7/13, Simone Pedersen 10/15) Quarter scores: 11-8, 13-11, 12-9, 10-11.
Standings: Tokomaru 18, Pelorus 14, Harlequins 13, SMOG 8, MGC 6, Awatere 1.