Pre-season fitness work has helped the Pelorus premier netball team make an auspicious start to their 2019 campaign.
Player/coach Courtney Taufa said the team had worked hard on conditioning before the season began and, “that is definitely showing out on court”.
“The team vibe is also good … just having each other’s back and confidence in each other. That makes it easy for our shooters.”
“We’ve got an awesome bunch of girls, willing to learn and everyone has their input … that certainly makes a difference,” she added.
Taufa and co-player/coach Danelle Moffat’s troops are locked with Harlequins at the top of the premier standings after they both picked up their third consecutive wins at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night.
The leading teams will meet tonight at 7.45pm to decide who grabs pole position for first round honours. MGC play Awatere at 6.15pm while SMOG take on Tokomaru at 8pm.
Last week, Pelorus had a blazing start to thank for their 56-43 victory over SMOG, while Harlequins showed resilience to get past a vastly-improved Awatere combination, 60-41.
The third match of the evening saw Tokomaru overcome Marlborough Girls’ College 59-45, moving the Picton side into third on the table.
In the night’s early match-up, Pelorus sped out of the blocks, racing to a 12-1 advantage in no time at all. SMOG found some cohesion late in the quarter but their opponents’ took the first stanza 16-6, earning a 10-goal margin they defended to the final whistle.
Once again SMOG’s reliable shooters, Kate Gaudin and Karli Murphy registered decent percentages, but they suffered from a lack of possession, thanks to Pelorus’s unrelenting defence. The Pelorus shooters, Taufa and Olivia Pinkerton put up 73 shots, their SMOG opposites just 52.
Pelorus showed they will be genuine title contenders, offering strength all through the court. Defenders Moffat, Oriana Houra and Claudia Ryan were energetic and hungry for any loose ball. Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jenna Gilbert dominated midcourt while Taufa and Pinkerton are forging a telling combination.
Defenders Katie Cunningham and Bonnie Morris battled hard for SMOG, while Katie Bradley was reliable and creative in midcourt.
In the second game, MGC were brought down to earth after their win over SMOG last week, a second quarter slump sealing their fate. Tokomaru lifted their tempo after an even opening stanza, dominating possession two-to-one as they surged to a 17-6 second quarter and a 31-19 halftime lead which MGC never looked like hauling in.
In the final game, Harlequins had to do without the talismanic Bridget Gane, a rare occurrence, and her absence as both an organizer and midcourt distributor was obvious in their spluttering first half effort, after which they trailed 24-22.
Awatere had plenty to do with that situation also, their passing accuracy and defensive determination up a level from last week.
However they were unable to sustain it and slowly, but surely, Quins got back into the game. An 18-9 third quarter sealed the deal for Quins, with shooter Lauren Murray to the fore as she carried the bulk of the offensive load, landing 49 of her 71 attempts.
Harlequins Radich Law 60 (Hayley Marfell 10/17, Lauren Murray 50/71) Awatere 41 (Aimee Jones 26/38, Tracee Lee 15/26). Quarter scores (winning team first): 8-16, 14-8, 18-9, 20-8.
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 59 (Haze Tepuia 43/53, Gemma Hika 10/12, Naia Lawrence 6/10) MGC NZ King Salmon 45 (Oakley Tepuia 21/31, Anna Gardiner 24/28). Quarter scores: 14-13, 17-6, 13-11, 15-15.
Pelorus Edridge Contracting 56 (Courtney Taufa 34/43, Olivia Pinkerton 22/30) SMOG Good Home 43 (Kate Gaudin 14/18, Karli Murphy 29/34). Quarter scores: 16-6, 14-15, 12-8, 14-14.
Standings: Pelorus 9, Harlequins 9, Tokomaru 5, SMOG 4, MGC 3, Awatere 0.