Quins finish on top, but Toko closing in

Tokomaru shooter Haze Tepuia stretches to pull in a high pass at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Harlequins may have clinched first round honours in the Marlborough premier netball competition, but they will be casting anxious glances over their shoulders at a Tokomaru side on a roll.

Quins wrapped up an unbeaten first round at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday, beating SMOG 50-41.

However it was the Toko troops who caught the eye. They romped past Awatere 89-39, a week after disposing of SMOG 64-54 and a fortnight after downing Marlborough Girls’ College 59-45.

Tokomaru’s only losses this season came in the first rounds, going down to Harlequins by two and Pelorus by five in the opening week.

Head coach Vanessa Hika said her side had taken a little while to find their feet, but combinations were now beginning to gel.

“The team is starting to come together nicely,” said the experienced mentor. “I hope we have had our run of injuries out of the way … we have certainly hit our [first round] target.”

A feature of Toko’s performances of late has been the shooting end combination of Haze Tepuia, who landed a startling 51 from 51 against SMOG, and the ever-reliable Gemma Hika.

“Haze is addicted to practicing, he’s on the shot all the time … he and Gemma have a really nice combination going now.”

Vanessa also pinpointed the family connections in the team with the Wilson twins, Hana and Kayla, working well in midcourt plus the Lawrence sisters, Naia and Savannah, also part of the equation. Defenders Michaela Boaz and Hannah Dickson played together for MGC last season, adding to the “extended family” mix.

“I feel we have lots of room to grow our game,” said Vanessa. “I’m excited by the rest of the season.”

However, it was the “Mighty Quins” who lived up to their nickname on Tuesday evening, getting the job done in a scrappy encounter.

Pelorus, who were best-placed to take advantage of any slip-up by Quins, tripped over themselves, going down 38-35 to Marlborough Girls’ College in the tightest battle of the night.

The Quins v SMOG match was a messy affair, as the low score indicated. The Ladies in Black are now without regular shooter Karli Murphy and took some time to adjust, Quins holding a seven-goal lead after the first quarter. However, SMOG had drawn within four at the break and only trailed by five heading into the final stanza.

Unfortunately for the chasing side their error rate compounded, allowing Quins to dominate possession and finish comfortably ahead.

Again Lauren Murray was a standout for Quins, moving well in the attacking circle and beginning to gel with shooting partner Hayley Marfell. Taylor Rogers and Hayley Lammas were strong in defence, along with the long-limbed Jackson McLaren.

SMOG got good value from defenders Merena Ave and Jesse Volavola, wing attack Ella-Rose Hammond plus shooters Lucy Barrett and Kate Gaudin, although they put up 19 less shots overall than their rivals.

The evening’s late show featured Pelorus and MGC. The students, most of whom had been involved in rep play at either South or North Island age group tournaments over the long weekend, were expected to be jaded, but came out firing.

They led by four at halftime and eight at the three-quarter break, their trio of shooters, led by the composed Anna Gardiner, converting regularly while their defence, superbly marshalled by Olivia Robinson, punished any Pelorus inaccuracy.

However, it was Pelorus who came home stronger, albeit in a frantic final 15 minutes, and went close to snatching the match.

A 6-1 scoring run saw Pelorus close within two goals in the final five minutes before MGC managed to find the net and shut the game out.

Eleri James-Sitters, Ella Donald and Neve Godsiff provided energy in midcourt for MGC, while Lily Tiueti impressed late in the piece at wing defence.

Pelorus, who were again missing player/coach Courtney Taufa, worked hard to stay in touch throughout, but were unable to find any extra spark until the final quarter. Defenders Danelle Moffatt, Oriana Houra and Kelly West, plus shooter Olivia Pinkerton stood out on a tough night.

It was an even tougher night for Awatere, who played a promotion/relegation battle against the grade one winner on Sunday.

Although they dropped in 39 goals, they were overwhelmed by a Toko offensive blitz.

The opening games in round two will be played tonight.

Awatere will be back on the inside courts after winning their promotion/relegation battle against grade one winners Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern on Sunday. Awatere prevailed 58-53, leading through all four quarters of a tightly-fought contest.

Scores from Tuesday:

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 38 (Oakley Tepuia 5/8, Isabella Rohloff 10/17, Anna Gardiner 23/30) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 35 (Olivia Pinkerton 21/29, Jordan Peipi 14/27). Quarter scores (winning team first): 14-11, 9-8, 11-7, 4-9.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 89 (Haze Tepuia 67/73, Gemma Hika 22/28) Awatere 39 (Tracee Lee 3/11, Aimee Jones 36/53). Quarter scores: 16-10, 24-11, 24-10, 25-8.

Harlequins Radich Law 50 (Lauren Murray 33/41, Hayley Marfell 17/28) SMOG Good Home 41 (Lucy Barrett 22/28, Kate Gaudin 19/22) Quarter scores: 15-8, 9-12, 12-11, 14-10.

Final round one standings: Harlequins 15, Tokomaru 11, Pelorus 10, MGC 9, SMOG 4, Awatere 0.

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