Harlequins fired a warning shot across the bows of their premier netball rivals with a gritty victory over Pelorus at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.
“The Mighty Quins” showed they would be a force to reckon with in the shortened 2020 season by downing SMOG in round one, then backing up with a hard-fought 41-37 win over Pelorus, last year’s finalists.
In the early match SMOG rebounded with a 67-47 victory over Awatere, while defending champions Tokomaru continued on their winning way with a comfortable 63-41 triumph over Marlborough Girls’ College.
However, it was the Quins v Pelorus clash that caught the eye. Not for the precision of either side’s play, a lack of accuracy showing that some post-lockdown rust remains.
Turnovers were frequent, especially as the stakes ramped up in the latter stages. Underlining this, the third quarter was won by Pelorus 6-5, just 23 shots attempted over the 15-minute period.
The final quarter was also low-scoring, Quins claiming it 11-5. The teams were locked together 36-36 with five minutes on the clock before Quins took charge. Their efforts were led by young goal defence Jackson McLaren, who only played the final 15 minutes. His athleticism and speed of foot bred uncertainty in Pelorus’s attacking game, while he also pulled off a couple of crucial interceptions.
His team mates also lifted in the final stages. Shooters Lauren Murray and Stacey Hopkins managed handy percentages throughout, while middies Bridget Gane, Maighan Watson and Sophie Robinson, plus defenders Olivia Robinson and Katie Cunningham took the battle right to the final whistle.
Pelorus were very much in the game and will rue some missed opportunities and inaccuracies in the latter stages. Their defence was strong and energetic, Jordan Peipi, Oriana Houra and Courtney Avery all enjoying moments of dominance.
Olivia Pinkerton and Paige Lovell returned handy shooting stats, while Kelsie Fitzpatrick continually added impetus through court.
The evening’s early entertainment saw SMOG win all four quarters, their effort led by a strong defensive performance from Karli Murphy, normally a circle attacker.
She worked well with Bonnie Morris to pressurize their rivals, especially as the sides enjoyed an almost equal share of possession.
Anna Thomas, Katie Bradley, Cara Wiapo and Kate Gaudin provide experience and guile in midcourt while Anna Gardiner is becoming a very reliable performer under the hoop.
Awatere continue to drop in their fair share of goals, welcoming the energetic Aimee Jones back this week to partner Hannah McCabe, however concede too many at the other end.
With such talented players as Ashley Childs, Nicole Witterick, Courtney Ryan, Harriet Ryan, Dee Teddy and Kim Andrews on their roster the Tussocks have the personnel, but are yet to find the right mix.
The third game featured two sets of twins on court at the same time. Toko middies Kayla and Hana Wilson turned in their usual heads-up, energetic efforts, while ace shooter Haze Tepuia was marked by his twin sister Oakley, keeper for the MGC side.
Unfortunately for Oakley her side were unable to keep pace with the champs, despite holding them to just four goals at halftime. A 20-11 third quarter took the match out of MGC’s reach, although they battled to the end, led by Taila Town, Fiaalii Solomona, Mele Moli, Anika Moetaua and Naia Lawrence on attack, plus Taryn Breen and Mya Wiapo in defence.
Toko newcomer Eden Te Huki showed promise at the defensive end, alongside Michaela Boaz, while Haze Tepuia continues to rack up high percentages, this week dropping in 53 goals from 58 shots.
SMOG Good Home 67 (Kate Gaudin 20/26, Anna Gardiner 47/57) Awatere 47 (Hannah McCabe 21/28, Aimee Jones 23/48, Tori McCulloch 3/5). Quarter scores (winning team first): 18-10, 16-10, 17-15, 16-12.
Harlequins Radich Law 41 (Lauren Murray 22/36, Stacey Hopkins 19/30) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 37 (Paige Lovell 24/37, Olivia Pinkerton 13/18). Quarter scores: 10-14, 15-12, 5-6, 11-5.
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 63 (Haze Tepuia 53/58, Gemma Hika 6/101, Dana Wilson 4/7) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 41 (Taila Town 16/19, Fiaalii Solomona 10/16, Naia Lawrence 15/20). Quarter scores: 14-9, 12-11, 20-11, 17-10.
Standings: Tokomaru 6, Harlequins 6, SMOG 4, Pelorus 4, MGC 0, Awatere 0.