A first-quarter scoring burst by Marlborough Girls’ College was not enough to keep Harlequins at bay during Tuesday’s premier netball action at Stadium 2000.
Quins recovered to take out a nail-biter 46-42, while Tokomaru comfortably accounted for Awatere 79-53 in the night’s second match and Pelorus kept SMOG winless in the final encounter, coming out on top 67-40.
However it was the first match-up that provided the most entertainment, the students’ lightning start catching Quins off guard. Some slick work by the MGC midcourt and accurate shooting from Anna Gardiner and Isabella Rohloff saw MGC establish a surprise 10-goal advantage at the first break.
Quins were stung into action, making a couple of crucial substitutions. Hayley Lammas came into goal keep after Taylor Rogers was forced from the court with an ankle injury, while former MGC shooting ace Malia Manoa and wing defence Anna Martin entered the fray in the second quarter.
The change was immediate. Lammas and Martin began to disrupt MGC’s attacking rhythm while Manoa’s movement in the circle and reliable shooting helped swing the momentum Quins’ way.
By halftime the deficit had been erased and the scores were level, by three quarter time, Quins held a one-goal advantage.
Sparked by the efforts of evergreen centre Bridget Gane, they established a three-goal lead midway through the final stanza before a run of goals saw MGC take the lead with three minutes to go.
However it was Quins, so cool under pressure, who closed the game out, Manoa picking up a crucial tip at halfway then combining with Marfell to drop in the go-ahead goals.
Quins used 10 players to get the job done, recovering superbly from a slow start, while MGC will have learned plenty from their inability to close out the game. Ella Donald was impressive in midcourt for the students, who welcomed previously-injured shooter Taila Town back in the second half, replacing Rohloff.
Awatere may have managed to score 53 goals in their match, but were unable to stop the Toko scoring juggernaut at the other end as the Picton-based side steadily pulled away through each quarter.
Haze Tepuia (58 from 63) and Gemma Hika (20 from 26) benefitted from accurate and inventive feeding from the Wilson twins, Kayla and Hana, to keep the scoreboard ticking over at a rapid rate. Tepuia’s rebounding also ensured his side picked up several second-chance goals.
In defence, Savannah Lawrence and Michaela Boaz worked hard, pressurizing ever-improving Awatere attackers, Aimee Jones and Tracee Lee.
With such an imbalance in possession (90 shots to 75) even if Toko’s shooters had been off their game it would have been hard for Awatere to get up. Although they will be heartened by the goals-for column, they will have to find a way to reduce the goals-against stats.
Nicole Witterick and newcomer Demelza Teddy, at goal defence, stood out for the Tussocks.
The night’s final clash saw Pelorus underline their growing confidence and combination, winning all four quarters against a SMOG side that never stopped trying.
Newcomer Jalen King, a former MGC standout, slotted smoothly into the Pelorus defensive circle for Danelle Moffatt, who is out for the season, quickly forging a smooth rapport with another impressive youngster, Oriana Houra.
The midcourt combo of Jenna Gilbert, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jordan Peipi continues to drive and thrive, while Courtney Taufa and Olivia Pinkerton combined to make the most of the fact their side were able to put up 30 more goal attempts than the Ladies in Black.
Pelorus player/coach Taufa was pleased with her side’s progress, noting that although they have lost a key player in Moffatt, others have immediately stepped up.
“I was stoked with how the young girls, Oriana and Jalen, went. Everyone is just backing each other and slotting in nicely. We train hard and are putting in extra work as a team … just making it work. It’s exciting.”
SMOG are struggling, missing key defender Bonnie Pearce tonight and having to do without reliable shooter Karli Murphy, who is pregnant, for the remainder of their campaign. Shooters Lucy Barrett and Kate Gaudin made the most of what possession they gained, while Sarah Hammond, Katie Bradley and Jesse Volavola put in big shifts.
Harlequins Radich Law 46 (Hayley Marfell 18/29, Malia Manoa 25/30, Georgie Bryce 3/7) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 42 (Isabella Rohloff 8/11, Anna Gardiner 30/39, Taila Town 4/7). Quarter scores (winning team first): 5-15, 17-7, 11-10, 13-10.
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 79 (Haze Tepuia 58/63, Gemma Hika 20/26, Kayla Wilson 1/1) Awatere 53 (Tracee Lee 15/20, Aimee Jones 38/55). Quarter scores: 20-14, 19-12, 18-13, 22-14.
Pelorus Edridge Contracting 67 (Olivia Pinkerton 23/29, Courtney Taufa 44/52) SMOG Good Home 40 (Lucy Barrett 17/22, Kate Gaudin 23/29). Quarter scores: 20-10, 16-8, 14-13, 17-9.
Round two standings: Harlequins 9, MGC 7, Pelorus 7, Tokomaru 6, SMOG 0, Awatere 0.
Next week: SMOG v Awatere 6.15pm; MGC v Tokomaru 7.30pm; Harlequins v Pelorus 8pm.