The victorious, undefeated Tokomaru netball team at Stadium 2000 on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Tokomaru too good for all comers

The Tokomaru premier netball team have a unique pre-match ritual. They links arms and step over the mid line of the court they are about to play on in unison.

They undertake this “crossing of the line” to shed all the day’s baggage and concentrate their collective minds solely on the forthcoming game.

At a partially-deserted Stadium 2000 on Saturday afternoon it became very apparent from early on that that their minds were fully-focussed on the job at hand as they ruthlessly disposed of Pelorus 63-46 to claim their second consecutive premier crown.

Pelorus held Toko to a single goal during round robin play, but this afternoon had no answer to the efficiency and collective skill set of the Picton-based crew who almost totally dominated the middle stages of the match.

Pelorus looked the part in the first quarter, won 17-16 by Toko, shooter Paige Lovell finding her range early to land 14 goals from the same number of attempts. With circle defenders Oriana Houra and Jalen King combining superbly to place maximum pressure on the Toko shooting duo of Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika a tight final appeared in prospect.

However, the second quarter told a different tale. Missed shots, frequent turnovers and errant passes combined to destroy any momentum Pelorus had built. Like any champion side, Tokomaru took full advantage of their rival’s woes, Tepuia and Hika dropping in 15 goals from 19 shots while Pelorus landed just eight from 15.

With Michaela Boaz and Eden Te Huki quick to snatch the rebounds and the dynamic trio of Wilson sisters poised to shift the ball efficiently through midcourt, any Pelorus inaccuracy was swiftly punished.

Despite a change at halftime, with Jordan Peipi coming on at goal attack for Olivia Pinkerton, Tokomaru merely raised the bar.

They managed 22 goal attempts in this period to Pelorus’s 12, landing 19 goals to their opponent’s six successes. Thus, after 45 minutes and with the scoreline reading 51-30, the final was effectively over.

To their credit Pelorus lifted their heads and claimed the final stanza 16-12 to reduce the final margin, but the damage had long since been done. When the final whistle blew, the Toko contingent could reflect on an undefeated season which they ended with a giant exclamation mark.

At the centre of their success was lofty shooter Tepuia, named Marlborough netballer of the year at the MNA prizegiving which followed the final. His conversion rate was staggering and, when he was double-teamed, up stepped the redoubtable Hika to continue the momentum.

The addition of wing attack Dana Wilson to the family-friendly Toko midcourt this year has upped the ante, her clever feeding a feature of the final, while her sisters continue to add pace and precision to the mix. Hana Wilson was voted senior midcourt player of the year.

Boaz and Te Huki have grown as a defensive unit as the season has rolled on, the former strong under the hoop, the latter adept at hinting out intercepts.

Pelorus also had their heroes. Lovell almost single-handedly carrying the bulk of the shooting load, Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Jenna Seabrook, Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi working hard in midcourt while King and Houra, the latter named defender of the year, did their level best to stem the flow.

Tokomaru coach Vanessa Hika said today’s victory felt different to last year’s triumph.

“Just because it has been such an unusual short season … more challenging too as we didn’t have much time for development.

“But this season has proven to me that relationships are everything … they are a very tight bunch that have just kept getting tighter.

“We have got a real family thing going on there too, sometimes it’s a bonus, sometimes it’s not,” she added with a smile. “But we just like each other and play hard for each other.”

Toko skipper Gemma Hika said that although the scoreline blew out, “it was still hard work out there”.

“We work really hard on our team cohesion off the court as well.

“[Today’s win] was also extra-special as it could possibly be Haze’s last game for us.”

Pelorus coach Courtney Taufa was full of praise for Toko and said her charges were “a bit flat”.

“We needed to back each other a bit more today and we didn’t.”

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch 63 (Haze Tepuia 43/48, Gemma Hika 20/27) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 46 (Paige Lovell 42/62, Olivia Pinkerton 2/9, Courtney Avery 2/4). Quarter scores (winning team first): 17-16, 15-8, 19-6, 12-16.

Haze Tepuia was named 2020 netballer of the year. Photo: Peter Jones.
Haze Tepuia was named 2020 netballer of the year. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netball winners decided

The Tokomaru club definitely dominated proceedings on Marlborough netball’s finals day.

Teams from the Picton-based club contested four of the eight senior grade finals on Saturday, winning them all, from premier to social grade.

Added to this was victory for the Queen Charlotte College Awhina side in the grade four decider.

Tokomaru players also featured prominently in the season awards at premier level.

Haze Tepuia, goal shoot for the premier team, was named outstanding attacking player of the year, while Hana Wilson was voted top midcourt performer.

Oriana Houra from Pelorus was named outstanding defender of the year and also picked up the MVP award for points accrued during the season.

Most improved senior player was MGC defender Taryn Breen.

 

Finals results

Premier: Tokomaru 63 Pelorus 46

Grade one: MGC Fairweathers 25 Pelorus Farmlands 21

Grade two: Tokomaru Oxleys 23 SMOG Expol 20

Grade three: Tokomaru Summit Real Estate 28 MGC Vets Marlborough 16

Grade four: QCC Awhina 35 Pelorus Havelock Hotel 13

Grade five: SMOG Subway 22 Harlequins WK+ 14

Grade six: Legion 12 Pelorus Owen Marine 11

Grade social: Tokomaru Picton Motordome 31 Pelorus Fairweathers 28

 

Season prizes

Officiating, umpiring awards

Official of the year: Sonya Masters

Junior umpire of the Year: Tayla Fowke

Most improved umpire: Natasha Cook

Most promising umpire: Mandy O’Malley

Umpire of the Year: Michelle Stagg

Person contributing most to netball: Megan McKendry

 

Playing awards

Most improved senior defence: (merit Chloe Devir) Taryn Breen

Most improved senior attack: Taila Town

Most improved mid court: Millie Wensley

Most improved senior player overall: Taryn Breen

Most outstanding senior defence: (merit Mya Wiapo, Olivia Robinson) Oriana Houra

Most outstanding senior mid court player (merit Laura Murphy) Hana Wilson

Most outstanding senior attack (merit Anna Gardiner) Haze Tepuia

MVP of the Year: Oriana Houra

Netballer of the Year: Haze Tepuia

 

Pelorus player Laura Murphy drives through midcourt against Harlequins last week. Photo: Peter Jones.

Toko, Pelorus set up final rematch

Despite the impact of COVID on the ravaged sporting landscape in 2020, some things stay the same.

In a repeat of the 2019 premier netball final, Tokomaru will do battle with Pelorus at Stadium 2000 on September 19.

Both teams made their way to the “big dance” with comprehensive victories on Tuesday, top qualifiers Toko romping past SMOG 73-40 in the early game, then Pelorus accounting for Harlequins, who had beaten them twice before this season, 48-33.

SMOG may have been underdogs going into their clash with the defending champs but they looked more than equal to the task in the first quarter, sharing the spoils 13-13. With possession even and SMOG’s shooters, Anna Gardiner and Kate Gaudin, going at 100 percent it was game on.

However the second quarter turned the match on its head.

After an even first five minutes, Toko changed gear. They went on an 18-1 scoring run, leaving SMOG chasing shadows, taking poor options and wondering how the score could build so quickly.

With Eden Te Huki and Michaela Boaz snaffling up any opportunities to create turnovers in the defensive circle, the ever-energetic Wilson sisters operating smoothly in attack and pressurising SMOG’s passing game, it became one-way traffic.

When the halftime hooter went the Ladies in Black trailed 34-19 and the game was effectively over, especially with Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika operating at a tick under 90 percent for the match.

SMOG’s three shooters were also on song, making the most what little ball they received. In total, they put up just over half the shots that their rivals managed but registered an 86 percent success rate.

The injection at halftime of Isabella Rohloff at GS and Sarah Hammond at centre, with Gaudin moving to wing attack, helped steady the ship, but the damage was done and SMOG never threatened to close the gap significantly.

A feature of Toko’s play is their willingness to stick to their own roles and work hard for each other. A non-selfish attitude, quick hands in midcourt and an ability to create several pathways into the circle, not just relying on a high ball to the lofty Tepuia, means they will go into the final as hot favourites.

However, Pelorus will definitely have other ideas.

They have had trouble with Quins this abbreviated year, and would be the first to admit they have been far from their best lately, but on Tuesday they produced the sort of game they have been looking for.

From athletic defenders Oriana Houra, Jalen King, Jenna Gilbert and Jordan Peipi, to the skilled midcourt of Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Laura Murphy, onto the admirable Paige Lovell and Olivia Pinkerton in the shooting circle, they all played their part, building their lead by small increments through each quarter.

As the scoreboard pressure mounted, Harlequins became more desperate. Despite creating plenty of turnovers, they were often unable to convert them into goals, accuracy deserting them at vital times.

The arrival of Jackson McLaren at GD after halftime provided some defensive spark, while Maighan Watson and Sophie Robinson worked hard to bring their side back into the game.

But ultimately it was not enough and Pelorus thoroughly deserved the opportunity to make amends for their 58-53 loss to Toko in last year’s final.

However, they would have to lift their game another 10 percent if they are to stop the Picton crew from completing an unbeaten season.

If Pelorus are looking for inspiration they may look back to late July when they held Toko to 48-47. A similar scoreline would make for an enthralling final, especially in front of a capacity crowd – fingers crossed.

Semifinal scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 73 (Haze Tepuia 58/62, Gemma Hika 15/20) SMOG Good Home 40 (Kate Gaudin 9/11, Anna Gardiner 22/24, Isabella Rohloff 9/11). Quarter scores (winning team first): 13-13, 21-6, 19-14, 20-7.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 48 (Olivia Pinkerton 13/17, Paige Lovell 35/52) Harlequins New World 33 (Stacey Hopkins 23/36, Lauren Murray 10/19). Quarter scores: 14-9, 14-9, 11-9, 9-6.

Final (Saturday September 19): Tokomaru v Pelorus

Harlequins defender Katie Cunningham plucks the ball out of the air during her side’s match with Tokomaru on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netballers prepare for playoffs

The big question on everyone’s lips as the top four premier netball teams approach tonight’s semi finals is, “how do you stop Tokomaru?”.

The Picton-based club have set the pace since the outset of this COVID-abbreviated season and the ease with which they disposed of one of their main rivals last week at Stadium 2000 suggests the answer to the previous question has not yet been found.

With the four semi finalists confirmed last week, Tuesday’s games were just about pride and momentum leading into play-off time.

While Toko obviously have plenty of both, judging by their 57-35 win over Harlequins, SMOG, their rivals in next Tuesday’s semi, lost impetus, going down 57-55 to the vastly-improved Marlborough Girls’ College outfit.

The night’s third match saw a brave effort from Awatere come up short as they went down to Pelorus 54-41 after dominating the early stages.

Pelorus will meet Harlequins in the other semi final, the fact the sides are tied on points after two rounds indicating the expected closeness of this match-up.

The Quins will go away and regroup after last week’s effort and, as they invariably do, come back stronger next week.

They struggled to restrict Toko’s scoring, losing both the first and second quarters by seven goals as the Picton side put up 37 shots to Quins’ 21.

Despite regular goal attack Gemma Hika sitting this one out, Toko were well-served in the shooting circle by Dana Wilson and the formidable Haze Tepuia, with 91 percent shooting.

Defensively they continue to impress, Eden Te Huki, Chloe Devir and Michaela Boaz part of a line-up that went unchanged for the whole match.

Defender Katie Cunningham impressed as a second half sub for Quins, Stacey Hopkins shot accurately and Simone Pedersen showed her full range of skills with handy stints at both wing attack and goal attack.

The match of the evening was undoubtedly the first encounter, which went right down to the wire.

The students signed off their 2020 season with an exclamation mark, hanging tough to get the result despite a late SMOG comeback.

In this game of swings and roundabouts each side enjoyed periods of dominance, MGC holding a seven-goal lead at one stage in the third quarter.

However, that was reduced to two by the time the final stanza began and, with defence dominating proceedings, each goal became crucial as time ticked by. With possession evenly shared SMOG went on a run to edge ahead by one with six minutes remaining, but the students were not to be denied, shooter Taila Town landing a couple of crucial goals to get the job done.

Their defensive pairing of Taryn Breen and skipper Mya Wiapo was again outstanding, along with middie Anika Moetaua and the returning Fiaalii Solomona.

SMOG have a major hurdle in front of them if they are to tip over Toko, but have the big-match experience to do just that, in the shape of defenders Bonnie Morris and Karli Murphy, Katie Bradley and Anna Thomas, plus reliable shooters Kate Gaudin and Anna Gardiner.

Awatere began their final match of the season as if they had a train to catch, leading 17-7 early in the second quarter. However, Pelorus introduced key shooter Paige Lovell at that stage and the game changed. Lovell landed 13 goals as the Tussocks’ intensity waned, bringing her side right back into a game that seemed to be slipping away.

By halftime Awatere led 24-23, but that was as close as they got thereafter, a 17-4 third quarter firmly shutting the gate on their hopes of a final night upset, although they fought to the finish with a tight fourth quarter.

Lovell was obviously a key figure in this one, her return from injury providing composure and experience under the hoop. Also returning from injury was Awatere “spark plug” Nicole Witterick, the mobile middie lifting her team mates.

Laura Murphy, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Oriana Houra also shone for Pelorus, while Harriet Ryan, Kim Andrews and Ashley Childs stood out for the Tussocks.

Scores:

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 57 (Taila Town 27/36, Fiaalii Solomona 30/42) SMOG Good Home 55 (Kate Gaudin 21/26, Anna Gardiner 34/40). Quarter scores (winning team first): 14-18, 14-11, 18-15, 11-11.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 54 (Olivia Pinkerton 11/16, Courtney Avery 3/10, Paige Lovell 40/52) Awatere 41 (Aimee Jones 34/56, Ashley Childs 7/14). Quarter scores: 6-13, 17-11, 17-4, 14-13.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 57 (Haze Tepuia 42/46, Dana Wilson 15/25) Harlequins New World 35 (Stacey Hopkins 16/20, Lauren Murray 11/17, Simone Pedersen 8/16). Quarter scores: 15-8, 14-7, 13-10, 15-10.

Standings after round robin play: Tokomaru 30, Harlequins 20, Pelorus 20, SMOG 15, MGC 13, Awatere 1.

Semifinals: Tokomaru v SMOG; Harlequins V Pelorus.

SMOG’s Ella Donald prepares to feed the circle. Photo: Peter Jones.

Fourth premier netball finalist decided

The fourth semi-finalist has been confirmed for the forthcoming premier netball play-offs.

SMOG booked the final place in the semis with a nail-biting 49-48 win over Harlequins at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday, leaving fifth-placed Marlborough Girls’ College, who played their part with a 54-36 win over Awatere, too far behind to reach the business end of this unusual season.

In the final game of a night again marked by the absence of spectators, and the atmosphere they create, Tokomaru continued their unbeaten run with a comfortable 50-33 win over Pelorus.

However, the game of the night was undoubtedly the clash between traditional rivals Harlequins and SMOG, the “Ladies in Black” needing three points to push them clear of the fast-improving MGC outfit.

This match was close throughout, Quins ahead by one at quarter time all square at halftime.

A 14-10 third quarter win eased Quins ahead 38-34 as SMOG struggled to retain possession and began to slip off the pace.

However, the quickly regained their composure in the final stanza and with shooters Anna Gardiner and Kate Gaudin in accurate form, they were on level terms with six minutes to play.

SMOG then established a one-goal lead, which proved critical. Quins repeatedly levelled the scores but their rivals always managed the go-ahead goal and had their nose just in front when the final whistle blew.

SMOG used the bare seven players, midcourters Anna Thomas, Ella Donald and Katie Bradley, plus defenders Bonnie Morris and Karli Murphy providing stiff all-court defence plus energetic attacking momentum.

Harlequins will rue missed opportunities to play their rivals out of the game in the early stages of the final quarter. They were well led by Lauren Murray, with Stacey Hopkins, Olivia Robinson, Simone Pedersen, Bridget Gane and Katie Cunningham having their moments in a thrilling, if at times scrappy, encounter.

Tuesday’s early game pitted MGC against Awatere, the students leading throughout, although not able to pull more than 10 goals away from the gritty Tussocks until the final quarter.

MGC suffered an early setback, losing influential goal attack Fiaalii Solomona in the early stages with a leg injury. Regular midcourter Mele Moli stepped into the goal circle and showed a wide array of skills. Also prominent for MGC was shooter Taila Town and midcourter Anika Moetaua, but it was defender Mya Wiapo who caught the eye. Her anticipation, decisiveness and athleticism provided a nightmare for the Awatere attackers. Alongside her, Taryn Breen had another top game, her fast hands in the circle creating several turnovers.

Awatere were competitive throughout, led by middies Kim Andrews and Ashley Childs, shooters Aimee Jones and Hannah McCabe, plus Dee Teddy and Harriet Ryan in defence.

Pelorus and Toko fought out last year’s premier final, the Picton side winning by five goals.

On Tuesday they prevailed by 17, over a Pelorus side who look to be saving their best for the semis. They have talent aplenty, even with key shooter Paige Lovell out with injury, but were unable to mount a serious 60-minute challenge to the champions.

They were competitive in the first quarter but, after going behind by 10 at halftime, were unable to stay in the game despite having an equal share of possession and putting up almost the same amount of shots at goal.

Toko rolled on like a well-oiled machine, for most of the time, lifting their intensity when called on and looking more and more like hot favourites for a premier double.

Eden Te Huki was a top performer for Toko tonight, along with Dana Wilson, who is becoming more prominent as the season goes on.

Laura Murphy, Oriana Houra, Jalen King and were strong for a side who will be pleased to have restricted Toko to 50 goals, a low score by their recent standards.

Tonight sees the final week of round robin play, with the semi-finals on September 8 and the final on September 19.

Scores:

SMOG Good Home 49 (Kate Gaudin 19/23, Anna Gardiner 30/36) Harlequins Radich Law 48 (Stacey Hopkins 37/55, Lauren Murray 11/19). Quarter scores (winning team first): 12-13, 12-11, 10-14, 15-10.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 54 (Taila Town 43/54, Mele Moli 11/22) Awatere 36 (Aimee Jones 11/25, Hannah McCabe 25/42). Quarter scores: 15-8, 12-9, 12-12, 15-7.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 50 (Haze Tepuia 35/38, Gemma Hika 15/19) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 33 (Olivia Pinkerton 9/17, Courtney Avery 10/19, Jordan Peipi 14/20) Quarter scores: 13-10, 12-5, 13-9, 12-9.

Standings after the fourth week of round two: Tokomaru 27, Harlequins 20, Pelorus 17, SMOG 14, MGC 10, Awatere 1.

Tokomaru defender Michaela Boaz and SMOG shooter Isabella Rohloff reach high in a bid to claim possession during last week’s match. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netball play-offs take shape

Three of the four premier netball semifinalists have been confirmed after Tuesday’s action at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000.

Tokomaru all but clinched top qualifying position with a commanding 76-52 win over SMOG, sitting five points ahead of Harlequins with two qualifying rounds of play before the semis on September 8.

The Quins were able to keep the pressure on Toko for second round honours with a comprehensive 69-23 victory over bottom-placed Awatere.

Pelorus sit comfortably in third place, beating the rapidly-improving Marlborough Girls’ College side 43-38 in the evening’s closest game.

Playing in front of a deserted spectator area, Harlequins kicked the night’s action off with a 60-minute display against the Tussock Jumpers.

Despite the early loss of defender Mikayla Avant with a leg injury Quins quickly regrouped and turned on an impressive all-court display.

Jackson McLaren, Sophie and Olivia Robinson, plus Katie Cunningham kept the pressure on Awatere’s attack throughout, creating turnovers aplenty. The extra possession was quickly relayed through midcourt, via the trusty and creative duo of Bridget Gane and Simone Pedersen. Up front Stacey Hopkins and Lauren Murray, who worked superbly in and out of the circle, ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over.

Kim Andrews was impressive in midcourt for the Tussocks, who used 10 players, including coach Kate Shadbolt, but were unable to find their rhythm on a tough night. Defenders Dee Teddy and Harriet Ryan, plus the ever-reliable Aimee Jones battled hard throughout.

The closest encounter of the evening featured the MGC side, who have shown some threatening form in recent weeks, against a Pelorus side yet to fully hit their straps.

A compelling first quarter quickly set the tone. With shooter Paige Lovell finding her range early, Pelorus raced to a 17-10 lead, an advantage they never relinquished, despite MGC narrowing the gap on occasion, plus winning the second and fourth quarters.

Pelorus were boosted by the return of Kelsie Fitzpatrick, who slotted straight back in to a slick midcourt combination with centre Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi.

Oriana Houra, one of the most impressive defenders in the competition, teamed up with Jalen King and Riana Burger to frustrate the MGC attack as the match turned into something of a defensive tussle late in the piece.

At the other end of the court, Mya Wiapo and Taryn Breen were also in fine fettle, helping the students restrict Pelorus to just four goals in the final 15 minutes.

Abbey Moody, Anika Moetaua, Millie Wensley and Mele Moli had their moments in midcourt for MGC, keeping the youngsters close enough to clinch a handy bonus point, but they will rue a few crucial turnovers late in the match that would have had them even closer.

The final match of the oddly-quiet evening saw the undefeated Toko outfit lift their game in the second quarter to account for SMOG.

With possession even and shooting stats similar the first quarter was tight, but the defending champs stepped on the gas in the second stanza. All-court defence created turnovers aplenty as Toko enjoyed a 25-11 goal attempt advantage and, with shooting ace Haze Tepuia extending his range but retaining his accuracy, they shot out to a 42-26 lead, effectively shutting out the Ladies in Black at the halfway stage.

Again, the Wilson sisters [Hana, Kayla and Dana] controlled midcourt, finding new ways to ensure the combination of Tepuia and Gemma Hika were fully employed.

In Eden Te Huki, Michaela Boaz and Chloe Devir, their stocks in the defensive circle are impressive.

SMOG welcomed back Sarah Hammond in a starting role and had the services of impressive defender Lina Pale, while shooters Anna Gardiner, Isabella Rohloff and Kate Gaudin all registered top percentages.

However, Toko put up 26 more shots overall, and with their shooters going at 88 percent, that was more than enough to win.

Scores:

Harlequins Radich Law 69 (Stacey Hopkins 40/61, Lauren Murray 29/45) Awatere 23 (Aimee Jones 15/23, Hannah McCabe 5/5 Elizabeth Solly 3/6). Quarter scores (winning team first): 16-6, 16-4, 17-5, 20-8.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 43 (Paige Lovell 31/44, Olivia Pinkerton 9/23, Courtney Avery 3/9) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 38 (Taila Town 17/27, Fiaalii Solomona 21/30). Quarter scores: 17-10, 12-13, 10-7, 4-8.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 76 (Haze Tepuia 57/61, Gemma Hika 19/25) SMOG Good Home 52 (Kate Gaudin 12/13, Anna Gardiner 15/17, Isabella Rohloff 25/30). Quarter scores (winning team first): 20-17, 22-9, 16-11, 18-15.

Standings after the third week of round two: Tokomaru 24, Harlequins 19, Pelorus 17, SMOG 11, MGC 7, Awatere 1.

Rival midcourters, Hana Wilson, left, from Tokomaru amd MGC's Anika Moetaua fly high in pursuit of possession. Photo: Peter Jones.

Quins come out on top in ‘bizarre’ match

Harlequins rebounded quickly from defeat in their previous outing to ease past Pelorus into second spot on the premier netball standings.

On Tuesday evening at Stadium 2000, Quins came away with a 34-26 victory in a rather bizarre encounter.

A multitude of turnovers and some below-par shooting conspired to send the teams into the first quarter break with Pelorus ahead 6-5, one of the lowest scoring quarters in recent memory. Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter, which Harlequins won 8-5. While both sides struggled with passing accuracy and rhythm, some whole-hearted defensive work was also a reason why so few goals were finding their way through the respective hoops.

The third quarter summed up the unusual scoring pattern of this game, Quins making an 8-1 goal run at the start followed by a 7-1 run by Pelorus to complete the stanza.

Quins held a three-goal lead at the 45-minute mark, then upped the ante. Led from the back by a superb defensive effort from youngster Jackson McLaren, they put up 20 shots and restricted their rivals to just eight.

Although Harlequins’ shooters shot overall at just over 50 percent, with Pelorus going at around 70 percent, the wealth of possession Quins enjoyed throughout the match enabled them to create an eight-goal margin at the final whistle.

Returning to action for Quins was goal shoot Liv Hodson, in her first match of the season. She took some time to find her feet in the circle but was steady in the crucial final quarter. Others to shine for the victors were Simone Pedersen and Olivia Robinson.

Pelorus were again well served by defenders Oriana Houra, Jalen King and Riana Burger, with Paige Lovell making full use of limited possession at the attacking end.

Tokomaru have been pushed hard on a couple of occasions this season and at the halfway point of their match against Marlborough Girls’ College it seemed they would be again. However the defending champs made no race of it in the final half hour, winning 70-50.

In the first spell the students matched Toko throughout the court. Taila Town and Fiaalii Solomona shot well, defenders Mya Wiapo and Oakley Tepuia kept the brakes on Toko scoring machine Haze Tepuia while Anika Moetaua and Millie Wensley battled hard in midcourt. After the first quarter was tied 14-14, MGC took a three-goal lead into haftime.

However, their advantage was short-lived. Toko made a couple of changes, introducing Kayla Wilson and Eden Te Huki in defence. Suddenly a 12-3 run had Toko holding a comfortable lead which they built on as the match progressed and the student’s defensive intensity dropped.

As has been proven over recent seasons, if you want to beat Toko you have to play for the whole 60 minutes, a lesson the college side will have heeded.

Michaela Boaz was again outstanding for Toko, who again got great vale out of the trio of Wilson sisters in midcourt.

The final match of the night saw SMOG take on the winless Awatere combination, the Ladies in Black prevailing 62-42.

While there were no blow-out quarters, SMOG steadily built their lead through each period of play. Their outstanding player was goal shoot Isabella Rohloff, who landed 44 of her 49 goal attempts. She was well served in midcourt by Ella Donald, Anna Thomas, Katie Bradley and the returning Sarah Hammond. Bonnie Morris and Karli Murphy continue to build their defensive partnership, a telling factor in the final outcome.

Aimee Jones continues to carry the offensive load for Awatere, with middies Kim Andrews and Ashley Childs, plus defenders Harriet Ryan and Dee Teddy also catching the eye.

Scores:

Harlequins Radich Law 34 (Liv Hodson 21/38, Lauren Murray 13/27) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 26 (Paige Lovell 18/26, Olivia Pinkerton 3/6, Courtney Avery 5/5). Quarter scores (winning team first): 5-6, 8-5, 9-8, 12-7.

SMOG Good Home 62 (Kate Gaudin 7/10, Anna Gardiner 11/17, Isabella Rohloff 44/49) Awatere 42 (Aimee Jones 28/46, Tori McCulloch 3/19, Elizabeth Solly 11/17). Quarter scores: 16-10, 13-9, 16-12, 17-11.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 70 (Haze Tepuia 57/62, Gemma Hika 13/20) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 50 (Taila Town 22/25, Fiaalii Solomona 28/44). Quarter scores: 14-14, 13-16, 21-11, 22-9.

Standings after the second week of round two: Tokomaru 21, Harlequins 16, Pelorus 14, SMOG 11, MGC 6, Awatere 1.

MGC player Fiaalii Solomona lobs a pass into the circle during her side's win over Harlequins on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

MGC spring netball upset

Marlborough Girls’ College pulled off the biggest upset of the abbreviated 2020 premier netball season at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night, beating Harlequins 46-39.

Quins went into the match as firm favourite, having recorded only one loss in the first round and won their previous encounter with the students by 17 goals. On the other hand, MGC had failed to fire in the first five weeks, picking up just a single win against bottom-placed Awatere.

However, the sides’ respective records meant nothing on Tuesday, MGC showing from the outset they had come to play.

Their defence, spearheaded by Taryn Breen and Mya Wiapo, with help from Oakley Tepuia, was inspirational, snapping up rebounds and pouncing on the many loose passes that came their way.

At the other end Taila Town and Fiaalii Solomona recorded high shooting percentages, Solomona in particular efficient on the rebound.

In midcourt Anika Moetaua, Mele Moli, Millie Wensley were patient on attack and hungry on defence, helping provide the students’ best effort of the season.

By halftime they had forged a five-goal lead, which seemed unlikely to be enough against a polished Harlequins combination who were bound to fight back. MGC had stretched their lead to eight at the three quarter mark but a 9-2 run by the Quins saw them draw within one halfway through the final stanza. However MGC steadied the ship and finished with six unanswered goals as their rivals began to push passes with the clock running down.

For Quins it was an evening to forget, class players making rare mistakes throughout the court and looking disjointed in attack.

The introduction of Jackson McLaren and Mikayla Avant added energy to their cause in the second spell but there was no doubt the night belonged to the MGC crew.

The early match was also a close encounter. Pelorus beat SMOG 51-42 in a game featuring several goal-scoring streaks. After an even first quarter Pelorus put together a 7-0 run to establish a six-goal lead at halftime. However SMOG quickly repeated the dose, a 9-3 run bringing them within two goals midway through the third quarter.

Pelorus were not to be outdone though, producing a 10-3 run at the start of period four to set up what in the end was a comfortable victory.

The Pelorus midcourt of Jenna Seabrook, Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi were outstanding, along with defender Oriana Houra and shooter Paige Lovell.

For SMOG, Ella Donald added energy in midcourt, alongside the hard-working Anna Thomas, while Karli Murphy never stopped trying at goal defence.

Meanwhile Tokomaru continued on their winning way, overwhelming Awatere 83-41. The first round winners led 42-17 at halftime, enjoying a welter of possession compared to their rivals.

Overall they put up 102 shots to Awatere’s 65 and, with such accurate shooters as Haze Tepuia (57 from 62) and Gemma Hika (26 from 40) they were out on their own early.

Although Hannah McCabe and Aimee Jones battled hard in the attacking circle, Awatere struggled to overcome the defensive capabilities of Lily Tiueti, Chloe Devir and Michaela Boaz.

The loss of standout midcourter Nicole Witterick with a knee injury late in the game also blunted their potency.

Scores:

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 51 (Paige Lovell 35/54, Olivia Pinkerton 13/17, Courtney Avery 3/9) SMOG Good Home 42 (Kate Gaudin 13/16, Anna Gardiner 27/37, Isabella Rohloff 2/2). Quarter scores (winning team first): 13-11, 13-9, 12-14, 13-8.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 83 (Haze Tepuia 57/62, Gemma Hika 26/40) Awatere 41 (Aimee Jones 19/33, Hannah McCabe 19/26, Ashley Childs 1/2, Elizabeth Solly 2/4). Quarter scores: 20-10, 22-7, 19-14, 22-10.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 46 (Taila Town 24/31, Fiaalii Solomona 22/30) Harlequins Radich Law 39 (Lauren Murray 22/28, Stacey Hopkins 7/13, Simone Pedersen 10/15) Quarter scores: 11-8, 13-11, 12-9, 10-11.

Standings: Tokomaru 18, Pelorus 14, Harlequins 13, SMOG 8, MGC 6, Awatere 1.

Tokomaru defender Chloe Devir gets her balance on the goal line after pulling in a rebound. Photo: Peter Jones.

Toko take out first-round trophy

Tokomaru maintained their unbeaten record and wrapped up the first round premier netball title at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night – but it was a close-run thing.

They came out of their match against Pelorus with a 48-47 victory, holding their nerve through the final stages of a scrappy, but highly entertaining encounter.

Pelorus needed to beat Toko by five or more goals to pip the Picton side for the first round trophy but in the end would have just settled for a win over their fellow 2019 finalists.

Eight goals adrift at the halfway stage after a horror second quarter, won 17-8 by Toko, Pelorus showed resilience to fight back into the equation and were within three at the 45-minute mark.

The final quarter was frantic, from both sides, with turnovers aplenty and pressure ramped up at both ends of the court.

In the end it was Toko’s ability to convert less possession into more goals during the final stanza that decided the issue.

While Pelorus battled to find a way into their shooting circle, Toko often used high balls to find their ace shooter, Haze Tepuia, who landed 40 of his 42 attempts.

Pelorus will be disappointed to lose a match in which they won three of the four quarters, but will take heart from a gutsy effort throughout court, led by the ever-improving Oriana Houra, Jalen King and Jordan Peipi in defence, Laura Murphy, Jenna Seabrook in midcourt and shooters Paige Lovell, who went off court with an injury late in the final quarter, plus Olivia Pinkerton.

However, the night and the first round belong to Tokomaru. They are a formidable unit, combining defensive grit with attacking prowess. Defenders Michaela Boaz, Chloe Devir and Eden Te Huki are turning into a formidable unit, while the Wilson sisters in midcourt provide thrust and vision.

Their attack is based on the shooting accuracy of Tepuia but his combination and circle movement alongside the ever-reliable Gemma Hika is key to their success.

If tonight’s match-up, and last week’s thriller as Toko edged out Harlequins, is anything to go on, the forthcoming finals series should make exciting viewing.

The evening’s other two games were hard-fought but with divergent scorelines, not as compelling.

First up SMOG showed their experience and ability to control a game when they accounted for Marlborough Girls’ College 70-55. Two strong first quarters did the damage for SMOG, earning them a 12-goal advantage at halftime, which they extended to 15 by the end of the match as MGC tightened up their defence and maintained possession better.

SMOG’s best were midcourters Katie Bradley and Anna Thomas, Bonnie Morris in defence and sharp shooter Anna Gardiner. Skipper Mya Wiapo, midcourter Anika Moetaua, the versatile Fiaalii Solomona and shooter Taila Town impressed for the students.

In a physical encounter on court two, Harlequins won all four quarters against Awatere, prevailing 69-38 in another high-scoring clash.

Young defender Jackson McLaren, midcourter and goal attack Simone Pedersen, shooters Lauren Murray and Stacey Hopkins plus the effervescent Mikayla Avant shone for the Quins.

Awatere, who utilized 11 players, were well served by keeper Harriet Ryan, shooter Aimee Jones, Courtney Ryan and micourter Kim Andrews.

Scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 48 (Haze Tepuia 40/42, Gemma Hika 8/13) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 47 (Paige Lovell 33/54, Olivia Pinkerton 13/17, Courtney Avery 1/3). Quarter scores (winning team first): 12-13, 17-8, 11-16, 8-10.

Harlequins Radich Law 69 (Lauren Murray 38/49, Stacey Hopkins 24/31, Simone Pedersen 7/11) Awatere 38 (Aimee Jones 29/43, Hannah McCabe 8/11, Elizabeth Solly 1/1, Tori McCulloch 0/2). Quarter scores: 16-9, 20-12, 17-8, 16-9.

SMOG Good Home 70 (Kate Gaudin 10/15, Anna Gardiner 46/61, Isabella Rohloff 14/20) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 55 (Taila Town 34/44, Fiaalii Solomona 4/8, Naia Lawrence 17/22). Quarter scores: 19-15, 20-12, 16-13, 15-15.

Standings after round one: Tokomaru 15, Harlequins 13, Pelorus 11, SMOG 8, MGC 3, Awatere 1.

Awatere players Aimee Jones, left, and Kim Andrews shut out MGC defender Taryn Breen at the circle edge.

Close encounters of the netball kind

Premier netball returned to Stadium 2000 on Tuesday with three entertaining matches, all decided by six goals or less.

The evening’s top match saw unbeaten sides Tokomaru and Harlequins go head-to-head. After an hour of tight, see-sawing action the reigning champions Tokomaru came out on top 49-45.

First up was a clash between two sides yet to register a win over the opening three rounds. Marlborough Girls’ College A met Awatere and another close, intense tussle eventuated, the students eventually getting their noses in front late in the final quarter to prevail 46-43.

The evening’s third match featured Pelorus and SMOG and once again there wasn’t much in it. Pelorus came out on top 53-47 but were pushed throughout.

The Toko v Quins game featured an interesting clash of styles – the big question being, could Harlequins dent the prolific scoring of Toko marksman Haze Tepuia? Although the lofty goal shoot produced another 100 percent effort, landing all 39 of his goal attempts, Quins did enough outside the circle to limit his potency. In fact Harlequins enjoyed a lion’s share of possession, putting up 73 shots to Toko’s 52 attempts.

Consequently the game was close throughout, Toko leading by just one at the 45-minute mark. As the match reached its conclusion it became a case of who would blink first and that team was Quins. A couple of errant passes, a few missed shots and suddenly Toko had scored six of the final seven goals, allowing them a winning edge which they held to the final whistle.

Among their best was Gemma Hika, who complemented Tepuia superbly and defended hard at the attacking end. The Wilson sisters, Hana, Kayla and Dana brought energy to mid court while defenders Eden Te Huki and Michaela Boaz ensured there was pressure throughout the Quins’ circle.

Bridget Gane was at the heart of the Quins’ effort, orchestrating proceedings with well-timed passes, while the versatile Simone Pedersen made a fine job at both WA and GA.

Defenders Jackson McLaren, Olivia Robinson and Katie Cunningham were handed the job of defending Te Puia and handled the task well, restricting his impact on the match.

The evening’s first match was also a nail-biter. Both sides were desperate to claim their first win, although there is no relegation after the first of the two rounds this year.

With pride at stake Awatere and MGC went at it and it was anybody’s game until the final stages. MGC led by one after the first quarter, MGC were ahead by one at halftime and the scores were level at the three quarter mark.

However, MGC lifted their intensity slightly in the last 15 minutes, led by defenders Mya Wiapo, Taryn Breen and Oakley Tepuia. They helped restrict Awatere’s flow of ball, meaning MGC put up 22 shots in the final stanza to Awatere’s 11. With both sides shooting at a similar percentage there was only going to be one winner.

Shooter Aimee Jones was again a standout for Awatere, along with Nicole Witterick, who never stopped working in the defensive circle.

Pelorus, led by Oriana Houra, Jenna Seabrook and Laura Murphy, made a flying start to the third match, racing to a 17-11 lead in the first quarter.  However, SMOG battled back, losing the second by two, drawing the third and winning the final quarter. Kate Gaudin’s superb shooting ensured SMOG made the most of the ball they received, while Karli Murphy again stood out in the unfamiliar defensive role and Ella Donald’s speed and vision stood out in midcourt.

 

Scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 49 (Haze Tepuia 39/39, Gemma Hika 10/13) Harlequins Radich Law 45 (Lauren Murray 30/43, Stacey Hopkins 10/17, Simone Pedersen 5/13). Quarter scores (winning team first): 10-9, 11-10, 15-16, 13-10.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 53 (Paige Lovell 40/57, Olivia Pinkerton 13/20) SMOG Good Home 47 (Kate Gaudin 24/27, Anna Gardiner 23/32). Quarter scores: 17-11, 11-9, 13-13, 12-14.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 46 (Taila Town 25/37, Fiaalii Solomona 8/12, Naia Lawrence 13/24) Awatere 43 (Aimee Jones 37/50, Ashley Childs 6/14). Quarter scores: 12-11, 10-12, 11-12, 13-8.

Standings: Tokomaru 12, Harlequins 10, Pelorus 10, SMOG 5, MGC 3, Awatere 1.

SMOG defender Lina Pale rises high to attempt to block the shot of Tokomaru’s Haze Tepuia at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netball duo remain unbeaten

Premier netball rivals Tokomaru and Harlequins stayed on track for a battle of the unbeaten teams with a couple of contrasting victories at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.

Tokomaru, the defending champions, repelled a stern challenge from a revitalized SMOG outfit, getting home 66-61 as the Ladies in Black came home strongly in the final quarter.

Harlequins forged an early lead against Marlborough Girls’ College and prevailed comfortably, 55-32.

In the evening’s first match, Pelorus showed they will there at the business end of the season, disposing of Awatere by the same 55-32 scoreline.

However, it was the Toko v SMOG clash that provided the best viewing, two teams with contrasting styles battling to the final whistle.

For SMOG it was a case of restricting the prolific goal scoring of Toko shooter Haze Tepuia, who put up all but 10 of his side’s 77 goal attempts. The fact he landed 60 of them underlines his presence under the hoop, with SMOG circle defenders Bonnie Morris, Karli Murphy and latterly Lina Pale doing their best to limit his output but struggling to counter his height, reach and movement.

Toko led by five after the first quarter, then six at halftime and had stretched it to 11 at the 45-minute mark.

However SMOG lifted their game in the final stanza, dominating possession and taking it out 15-9, their final three goals allowing them a well-deserved bonus point.

The Picton crew were deserved winners however, their defensive quintet of Michaela Boaz, Alex Cambie, Chloe Devir, Eden Te Huki and Lily Tiueti restricting SMOG’s attack end and pressurizing them to shoot from distance. Fortunately for SMOG Anna Gardiner and Kate Gaudin were in fine form, registering high percentages to keep their side in touch.

The midcourt battle was intense, Hana, Dana and Kayla Wilson having an even tussle with Katie Bradley, Ella Donald and Anna Thomas.

The underlining difference was probably the ease with which Toko’s feeders were able to access Tepuia, while SMOG were forced to produce multiple passes for the same result at the other end.

Pelorus started with a hiss and a roar against the Tussocks, racing to a 17-9 lead after the first 15 minutes, then steadily  increasing it over the next two quarters. The ball found its way into shooters Paige Lovell and Laura Murphy with relative ease, Jenna Seabrook, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jordan Peipi working smoothly in midcourt.

Riana Burger, Jalen King and Oriana Houra proved effective in defence, ensuring Awatere’s lead shooter Aimee Jones had to work for every inch of space in the circle.

She was the pick of the Tussocks, along with defenders Harriet Ryan and Dee Teddy, plus the ever-versatile Ashley Childs.

The evening’s final game also saw one team make a fast start, Harlequins going up by 10 after the first quarter. They increased their lead to 17 by halftime and the game was effectively over.

Simone Pedersen, at wing attack, had another outstanding game for the Quins as coach Lesley Wilson was able to give all her bench players some court time. Best of the College crew, who showed spirit to draw the third quarter, was Fiaalii Solomona at wing attack and goal attack.

Next week premier netball takes a break, and resumes on Tuesday July 21.

 

Scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 66 (Haze Tepuia 60/67, Gemma Hika 5/5, Dana Wilson 1/5) SMOG Good Home 61 (Kate Gaudin 26/29, Anna Gardiner 35/39). Quarter scores (winning team first): 18-13, 17-16, 22-17, 9-15.

Harlequins Radich Law 55 (Lauren Murray 31/43, Stacey Hopkins 24/38) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 32 (Taila Town 10/15, Fiaalii Solomona 11/14, Naia Lawrence 11/15). Quarter scores: 13-3, 17-10, 11-11, 14-8.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 55 (Paige Lovell 30/43, Olivia Pinkerton 9/14, Laura Murphy 16/23) Awatere 32 (Aimee Jones 25/37, Elizabeth Solly 2/6, Ashley Childs 5/8). Quarter scores: 17-9, 15-5, 13-7, 10-11.

Standings: Tokomaru 9, Harlequins 9, Pelorus 7, SMOG 5, MGC 0, Awatere 0.