Marlborough Girls’ College senior A team coach Raramai Nicklin said a lift in standards throughout the court had contributed to her side’s upset win over the reigning premier netball champs on Tuesday night.
The students scored a thrilling 50-47 win over SMOG, a result Nicklin put down to an overall improvement, rather than individual brilliance.
“Improving our man-on-man defence was one of our goals. We had been doing a little bit of it, then having a rest and getting lazy. So it was really about tightening up on D and we managed to pick up a lot of ball off that.
“Also we had a lot more control tonight with our ball. Last week we picked up possession then we threw it away and couldn’t score off it. This week our transition from turnovers was a lot tidier and we had more options in the circle once it got to our shooters, our circle rotation was a lot better.
“The impressive thing about this young team is that they are so keen to learn, and they are learning from their mistakes … the improvement from last week to this week is exciting. They will only get better,” she added.
The MGC v SMOG clash was low-scoring and tight, a two-goal margin being the widest difference in any of the quarters.
The students turned in an energetic performance, displaying more hunger than their more-experienced opponents. Young shooter Taila Town showed the way, landing 26 of her 32 attempts and demonstrating coolness under pressure as SMOG closed in towards the end. Her combination with “birthday girl” Oakley Te Puia bloomed as they grew in confidence together.
Midcourt dynamos Eleri James-Sitters and Ella Donald, plus Lily Tiueti and Neve Godsiff, offered energy on both attack and defence, while Olivia Robinson and Mya Wiapo gave no quarter to the accomplished SMOG shooters.
Karli Murphy and Kate Gaudin both registered decent shooting percentages for the Ladies in Black, but the fact they had only 57 scoring attempts to their rival’s 72 underlined the fact that the flow of possession was firmly with the students as they created turnovers aplenty.
The MGC v SMOG clash was the first of two close, exciting matches at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000.
Later in the evening, Harlequins and Tokomaru engaged in a battle royal on court two, Quins emerging victorious 50-48.
Possession was relatively even, Toko winning the first two quarters to lead by two at the halfway stage. However Quins showed their composure to level the scores 35-35 at the three quarter stage, then win the final stanza by two. They led by four as the clock ticked down, but a turnover saw Toko bag three quick goals. They were closing in on an equalizing score before an offside call handed the ball back to Quins and the reliable Lauren Murray made no mistake to give her side some late breathing space.
Murray and Hayley Marfell’s combination in the attacking circle is beginning to pay dividends, while Mikayla Avant, Maighan Watson and Taylor Rogers continue to play pivotal roles.
Toko have found a steady source of points in youngster Haze Tepuia, twin brother of Oakley, who celebrated his 15th birthday with another high percentage shooting effort. His “battle of the blokes” with spring-heeled Quins’ keeper Jackson McLaren in the final quarter was worth watching.
Laura Murphy made a welcome return for Toko, while defender Michaela Boaz and middie Hana Wilson also had good nights.
The night’s third match saw Pelorus score a surprisingly comfortable win over Awatere, romping away with the match 76-27.
The stingy Pelorus defence, led by Danelle Moffat and Oriana Houra, ensured Awatere’s shooters were under pressure all night, while lively middies Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Jenna Gilbert and Kelly West are beginning to find some sweet combinations.
Under the attacking hoop, Courtney Taufa and Olivia Pinkerton shot with confidence and worked the circle well.
Best of the Tussock Jumpers, who welcomed back Ashleigh Childs, were centre Nicole Witterick, goal attack Aimee Jones and Harriet Ryan in defence.
Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 50 (Taila Town 32/41, Isabella Rohloff 10/14, Oakley Tepuia 8/17) SMOG Good Home 47 (Karli Murphy 29/34, Kate Gaudin 18/23). Quarter scores: 11-12, 12-11, 14-12, 13-12.
Pelorus Edridge Contracting 76 (Olivia Pinkerton 38/51, Courtney Taufa 38/47) Awatere 27 (Aimee Jones 17/29, Tracee Lee 3/4, Ashleigh Childs 7/13). Quarter scores (winning team first): 19-11, 20-4, 17-6, 20-6.
Harlequins Radich Law 50 (Hayley Marfell 15/21, Lauren Murray 35/51) Tokomaru 48 (Haze Tepuia 28/32, Naia Lawrence 4/9, Gemma Hika 16/29). Quarter scores: 14-15, 9-10, 12-10, 15-13.
Standings: Pelorus 6, Harlequins 6, SMOG 4, MGC 3, Tokomaru 2, Awatere 0.