Premier netball rivals Tokomaru and Harlequins stayed on track for a battle of the unbeaten teams with a couple of contrasting victories at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.
Tokomaru, the defending champions, repelled a stern challenge from a revitalized SMOG outfit, getting home 66-61 as the Ladies in Black came home strongly in the final quarter.
Harlequins forged an early lead against Marlborough Girls’ College and prevailed comfortably, 55-32.
In the evening’s first match, Pelorus showed they will there at the business end of the season, disposing of Awatere by the same 55-32 scoreline.
However, it was the Toko v SMOG clash that provided the best viewing, two teams with contrasting styles battling to the final whistle.
For SMOG it was a case of restricting the prolific goal scoring of Toko shooter Haze Tepuia, who put up all but 10 of his side’s 77 goal attempts. The fact he landed 60 of them underlines his presence under the hoop, with SMOG circle defenders Bonnie Morris, Karli Murphy and latterly Lina Pale doing their best to limit his output but struggling to counter his height, reach and movement.
Toko led by five after the first quarter, then six at halftime and had stretched it to 11 at the 45-minute mark.
However SMOG lifted their game in the final stanza, dominating possession and taking it out 15-9, their final three goals allowing them a well-deserved bonus point.
The Picton crew were deserved winners however, their defensive quintet of Michaela Boaz, Alex Cambie, Chloe Devir, Eden Te Huki and Lily Tiueti restricting SMOG’s attack end and pressurizing them to shoot from distance. Fortunately for SMOG Anna Gardiner and Kate Gaudin were in fine form, registering high percentages to keep their side in touch.
The midcourt battle was intense, Hana, Dana and Kayla Wilson having an even tussle with Katie Bradley, Ella Donald and Anna Thomas.
The underlining difference was probably the ease with which Toko’s feeders were able to access Tepuia, while SMOG were forced to produce multiple passes for the same result at the other end.
Pelorus started with a hiss and a roar against the Tussocks, racing to a 17-9 lead after the first 15 minutes, then steadily increasing it over the next two quarters. The ball found its way into shooters Paige Lovell and Laura Murphy with relative ease, Jenna Seabrook, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jordan Peipi working smoothly in midcourt.
Riana Burger, Jalen King and Oriana Houra proved effective in defence, ensuring Awatere’s lead shooter Aimee Jones had to work for every inch of space in the circle.
She was the pick of the Tussocks, along with defenders Harriet Ryan and Dee Teddy, plus the ever-versatile Ashley Childs.
The evening’s final game also saw one team make a fast start, Harlequins going up by 10 after the first quarter. They increased their lead to 17 by halftime and the game was effectively over.
Simone Pedersen, at wing attack, had another outstanding game for the Quins as coach Lesley Wilson was able to give all her bench players some court time. Best of the College crew, who showed spirit to draw the third quarter, was Fiaalii Solomona at wing attack and goal attack.
Next week premier netball takes a break, and resumes on Tuesday July 21.
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 66 (Haze Tepuia 60/67, Gemma Hika 5/5, Dana Wilson 1/5) SMOG Good Home 61 (Kate Gaudin 26/29, Anna Gardiner 35/39). Quarter scores (winning team first): 18-13, 17-16, 22-17, 9-15.
Harlequins Radich Law 55 (Lauren Murray 31/43, Stacey Hopkins 24/38) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 32 (Taila Town 10/15, Fiaalii Solomona 11/14, Naia Lawrence 11/15). Quarter scores: 13-3, 17-10, 11-11, 14-8.
Pelorus Edridge Contracting 55 (Paige Lovell 30/43, Olivia Pinkerton 9/14, Laura Murphy 16/23) Awatere 32 (Aimee Jones 25/37, Elizabeth Solly 2/6, Ashley Childs 5/8). Quarter scores: 17-9, 15-5, 13-7, 10-11.
Standings: Tokomaru 9, Harlequins 9, Pelorus 7, SMOG 5, MGC 0, Awatere 0.