The victorious Tokomaru team after taking out the Marlborough premier netball title on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Tokomaru triumph in tight premier netball final

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch are the 2019 Marlborough premier netball champions after beating Pelorus Edridge Contracting 58-53 at Stadium 2000 on Saturday afternoon.

The season’s decider was always going to be a tight affair, most pundits unable to confidently pick a winner. And so it turned out, with Pelorus creating the early pace, only to be run down in the third quarter as Toko held their nerve under extreme pressure.

While pocketing their second premier title in three years, Tokomaru dashed the dreams of a Pelorus side playing in the club’s first premier final, with high hopes of a first top-level crown.

Tokomaru shooter Haze Tepuia reaches out to claim possession during the premier grade final at Stadium 2000 on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.
Tokomaru shooter Haze Tepuia reaches out to claim possession during the premier grade final at Stadium 2000 on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Once the initial nerves had cleared the opening quarter was tight, the rivals going goal-for-goal until Pelorus managed a late run to head to the first break with a three-goal advantage, shooters Paige Lovell and Olivia Pinkerton sharing duties under the hoop and both performing at a high percentage.

Meanwhile, Toko were almost exclusively utilising lofty GS Haze Tepuia, the youngster putting up 14 of their 15 shots in the first quarter and going on to attempt 80 percent of his team’s shots throughout the final.

With both sides guilty of throwing away ball and giving up turnovers the second quarter was scrappy, with Pelorus once again finishing slightly stronger to add another goal to their lead, going into the major break 32-28 ahead.

The third period was critical, tilting the balance of the match in favour of the Picton crew. They started with an 8-4 run to level the scores then, with six minutes of the quarter remaining finally got their nose in front, a position they had not enjoyed since early in the first quarter.

From there they were never headed. With Pelorus’s shooting percentage falling, plus an inability to capitalise on turnovers created by willing defence, Toko pulled away, establishing a three-goal advantage entering the final quarter.

Try as they might, Pelorus were unable to string consecutive goals together and close the gap. As the noise from their faithful supporters in the crowd grew ever louder, Toko raised the intensity again and sealed the deal with the final two goals.

It would be hard to go past Tepuia as player of the match. His impact on the game was huge, an 86 percent shooting effort, plus his ability to reel in seemingly-wayward passes and grab rebounds making him extremely hard to mark.

However, the Pelorus defence of Courtney Taufa, Oriana Houra and Jordan Peipi must be applauded for their efforts in restricting the flow of possession to Tepuia and GA Gemma Hika, who was content to pass off to her shooting partner whenever the opportunity arose.

Toko’s often under-rated defence was also outstanding, Michaela Boaz, Naia Lawrence, Hannah Dickson, who wore the GD bib in the pivotal third quarter, and Brooke Horton were relentless and accurate.

In centre court the battle was tight, Toko’s twins Hana and Kayla Wilson maintaining an often telepathic link when under pressure, while Jenna Gilbert and Kelsie Fitzpatrick were creative and slick as they sought to bring Pelorus’s possession through court.

While it would be easy to suggest one bad quarter decided the outcome of the decider, it was more than that. Toko were able to win many of the small moments, the little battles within a war that decide the big games.

Toko coach Vanessa Hika said “it could have been anybody’s game”.

“They are such good opposition. Both teams fought all the way to the end … that’s just how finals should be.

“We talked at halftime about finishing our season properly, enjoying all the work we had put in, about composure and finding your heart.

“As the crowd started to pick up so did we … there was no panic towards the end.

“It was a really great day because there were two teams playing that maybe shouldn’t have been here and we had both fought so hard to get here. That’s just how the season was.”

Taufa, player/coach of the beaten side, said her team’s inconsistency was an issue. “If it wasn’t happening at one end it was working at the other and vice versa. Plus we chucked a lot of ball away and in the end that was what made the difference. We forced plenty of turnovers but just couldn’t convert them.”

“I’m so proud of our team though, as I said to them before the game, no matter what happens today we have made history for our club.

“There’s always next year.”

Premier final scores: Tokomaru 58 (Haze Tepuia 53/61, Gemma Hika 5/6) Pelorus 53 Paige Lovell 40/59, Olivia Pinkerton 13/18). Quarter scores (winning team first): 15-18, 13-14, 16-9, 14-12.

The Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern crew, who claimed the grade one title. Photo: Peter Jones.

Lower grade netball finals shared around

Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 was a hive of activity on Saturday as the climax of the club netball season was played out.

Nine finals were contested leading into the premier showdown, which was followed by Marlborough Netball’s annual prizegiving.

Action from the social grade final as Harlequins’ shooter Kristen Hammond puts up a shot. Photo: Peter Jones.
Action from the social grade final as Harlequins’ shooter Kristen Hammond puts up a shot. Photo: Peter Jones.

The action in the lower grade finals was fast and furious, with boisterous fans shouting encouragement to their favourites.

The grade one title was won by Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern, who had featured in two promotion/relegation games earlier in the season. They were too strong for their opponents on Saturday, Marlborough Girls’ College Robinson Construction, who dominated from the outset to prevail 45-18.

MGC Bryant Earthworks, winners of grade two. Photo: Peter Jones.
MGC Bryant Earthworks, winners of grade two. Photo: Peter Jones.

Quins’ goal shoot Naomi Fowler landed 39 goals from 37 attempts while fellow shooter Cathy Kitto shot 16 from 21. Mandy O’Malley was prominent on defence.

For MGC, Fiaalii Solomona and Lahana Dempster stood out.

Grade three winners Tokomaru RJB enjoy the moment. Photo: Peter Jones.
Grade three winners Tokomaru RJB enjoy the moment. Photo: Peter Jones.

The Harlequins, Pelorus and Tokomaru clubs each claimed two finals wins.

Lower grade finals results:

Grade one: Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern 45 MGC Robinson Construction 18

Grade two: MGC Bryant Earthworks 32 United Lake Chalice 22

Wairau A took out the grade five decider. Photo: Peter Jones.
Wairau A took out the grade five decider. Photo: Peter Jones.

Grade three: Tokomaru RJB 31 MGC Fairweathers 23

Grade four: Pelorus Revival 38 Pelorus Bottle-O 25

Grade five: Wairau A 29 Pelorus Owen Marine 24

Wairau team mates Amy McKendry, left, and Estella Tyrell enjoy some team bonding before their final. Photo: Peter Jones.
Wairau team mates Amy McKendry, left, and Estella Tyrell enjoy some team bonding before their final. Photo: Peter Jones.

Grade six: Harlequins Renwick MM 19 Bohally Senior A 17

Grade seven: SMOG Pak n Save 20 Harlequins GJ Gardiner 17

Social grade: Pelorus Fairweathers 41 Harlequins Allan Scott 37.

Tokomaru centre Hana Wilson claims a pass in front of Pelorus rival Jenna Gilbert during the round three game between this year’s premier netball finalists. Photo: Peter Jones.

Pelorus, Tokomaru to battle for premier netball crown

The stage is set for an intriguing Marlborough premier netball final on Saturday.

On opposite sides of the Stadium 2000 court will be “country cousins” – Pelorus Edridge Contracting and Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton.

Last Tuesday the two finalists booked their places in the premiership decider, pushing aside SMOG and Harlequins respectively, two clubs who have almost exclusively dominated the local premier scene for the past few decades.

Toko took out the premier crown in 2017, a rare interruption of the SMOG/Quins dominance, while Pelorus are yet to get their name on the trophy. In fact, this year’s premier final will be their first trip to the “big dance”.

Courtney Taufa, Pelorus player/coach, is excited to be part of a squad on the cusp of creating history.

“Last year was out first semi in 18 years and this year we have made the final, so that’s awesome.

“Toko will be tough … they play with their heart on their sleeve and give it their all, so we have got to come out firing.”

Taufa said Pelorus had a simple recipe for success. “We work for each other … have each other’s backs.”

Tokomaru coach Vanessa Hika, who was part of the winning management team in 2017, knows what is required to win a premier final and feels her side has the potential to do just that.

“[The Tokomaru team] have come a really long way this season … they have become a much tighter unit as the season has gone on. They have trust in each other, and composure.”

Hika said the youth and relative inexperience of this side was a not an issue.

“I think Gemma [Hika] and Hana [Wilson] were the only ones playing when we won in 2017, but this group are quite capable of taking out the final.

“If they believe in themselves and want it more than the other team, it will be ours.”

The finalists have met three times previously this season, Pelorus prevailing 52-47 and 66-54 in their first two clashes, before Toko responded by taking out the round three match 61-58.

Both side possess key players at the attacking end. Pelorus shooter Paige Lovell is willing to put up shots from anywhere in the circle, making her exceptionally hard to restrict. She is expected to carry the bulk of the shooting duties.

Tokomaru pose a twin threat, with youngster Haze Tepuia, who operates sweetly close to the hoop working in tandem with the experienced Gemma Hika. Both are high percentage shooters.

The finalists are also well served at the defensive end.

Pelorus can call on Courtney Taufa and the ever-improving Oriana Houra. Both work well in close quarters while Taufa, particularly, is adept at hunting out for interceptions.

Toko’s Michaela Boaz and Naia Lawrence tend to fly under the radar somewhat, but are energetic and effective in the circle.

The midcourters will be evenly matched.

The regular Pelorus trio of Jenna Gilbert, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jordan Peipi are versatile, offering silky skills on attack and gritty defense without the ball.

For Toko, the Wilson sisters, Hana and Kayla, possess speed and the ability to feed their sharp shooters in a variety of ways. Brooke Horton complements the twins in midcourt with energy and dogged defense.

On Tuesday both finalists were made to earn their place in the season’s climax, Toko winning by a single goal and Pelorus being pushed hard all night, despite holding a six-goal buffer at full time.

Toko appeared to have their game in the bag, leading by 59-52 midway through the final quarter, before SMOG mounted a superb comeback, scoring seven of the last eight goals to close to within one of forcing extra time.

SMOG’s ability to lift their game in the final 15 minutes was admirable, their showing a vast improvement on efforts earlier in the season and an indication of how far they have come as a new-look team this season.

The night’s second semi was not as dramatic, but just as hard-fought. Pelorus led by a single goal at halftime, then built a handy lead after 45 minutes, an advantage Quins were unable to bridge.

While this will not be Harlequins’ year, as usual they have contributed plenty to the premier scene and played some exciting, innovative netball along the way.

However, it will be Toko and Pelorus who have the final say in 2019, preparing for a final match-up too close to call.

 

Semifinal scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 60 (Haze Tepuia 42/47, Gemma Hika 18/22) SMOG Good Home 59 (Lucy Barrett 17/22, Kate Gaudin 42/45). Quarter scores (winning team first): 19-17, 17-14, 15-13, 9-15.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 50 (Paige Lovell 38/49, Olivia Pinkerton 12/16) Harlequins Radich Law 44 (Lauren Murray 21/31, Liv Hodson 23/27). Quarter scores: 14-7, 8-14, 14-9, 14-14.

Likely final teams

Pelorus (from): Courtney Taufa, Olivia Pinkerton, Jordan Peipi, Paige Lovell, Oriana Houra, Jenna Gilbert, Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Riana Burger, Laura Murphy, Kelly West.

Tokomaru: Michaela Boaz, Gemma Hika, Brooke Horton, Naia Lawrence, Haze Tepuia, Hana Wilson, Kayla Wilson, Hannah Dickson.

Finals draw

Premier: Tokomaru v Pelorus 2pm; grade one: MGC v Harlequins 12noon; grade two: United v MGC 10.30am; grade three: Tokomaru v MGC 10.30am; Pelorus Bottle-O v Pelorus Revival 9am; grade five:  3rd and 4th – Harlequins v Bohally 9am, 1st and 2nd – Pelorus v Wairau 12 noon;  grade six: SMOG v Harlequins 9am; social grade: Harlequins v Pelorus 10.30am.

Outstanding SMOG defender Mya Wiapo rejects this shot from Pelorus goal attack Olivia Pinkerton on Tuesday night. Photo: Peter Jones.

Then there were four…

Marlborough’s 2019 premier netball semifinalists have been decided after three contrasting encounters at Stadium 2000 last Tuesday.

Tonight, Tokomaru, who finished top qualifier courtesy of an 82-39 victory over Awatere, will meet SMOG in one play-off. The Ladies in Black enter the semifinal frame in fourth position, despite going down 46-42 to Harlequins in the game of the night.

The other semi will see Quins, who qualified third, take on second-ranked Pelorus who ended MGC’s play-off prospects with a 57-40 victory.

Although Toko and Pelorus ended the third round tied on 13 points, the Picton club take out the round and become top qualifier thanks to a vastly-superior points for and against differential.

Tuesday’s early game provided the most entertainment, especially with the participants, plus MGC, locked in a tight tussle for semifinal spots.

Harlequins shot out to an early lead, creating turnovers throughout court which their shooters, especially the in-form Lauren Murray, readily converted.

Down by seven at the first break, SMOG showed the resilience that has become their late-season hallmark, staying in the fight and pulling within three at halftime, shooters Lucy Barrett and Kate Gaudin missing only one goal in the quarter. Quins were forced to make a change shortly before the half hour mark, Murray leaving the court with a knee injury.

SMOG continued their resurgence in the third quarter, the arrival of Katie Cunningham sparking more defensive pressure, alongside the ever-energetic Bonnie Morris. By the third break they had levelled the scores, with the possession stakes now relatively even.

The final stanza was also tight, SMOG ultimately being left to rue a couple of missed shots of goal and then a wild pass or two as the clock ticked down and Quins nailed the final five goals to move ahead of their traditional rivals.

The defensive circle work of Jackson McLaren and Hayley Lammas was a feature for the Quins, both players preying on loose ball and exerting maximum pressure on their rivals throughout.

By the time they began their match against Pelorus, MGC knew they had to win to reach the semis and they began as if they meant business.

At halftime they trailed by just four, and were well in the hunt, on the back of an outstanding defensive effort by Mya Wiapo who, in conjunction with Olivia Robinson, swooped on any chances to turn over ball.

The third quarter though was another story, MGC losing their way while Pelorus upped their game, lifting the pace of play and dominating possession 27 goal attempts to 12.

With shooter Paige Lovell in imperious form, often from afar, they quickly pulled clear of the students to lead by 13 at three quarter time. The final stanza was more of the same, the Pelorus midcourt of Jenna Gilbert, Jordan Peipi and Kelsie Fitzpatrick efficient and controlled, while Courtney Taufa continued to pick of interceptions at the back.

The MGC side can now turn their attention to their tilt at the South Island secondary schools tournament, beginning September 3, but will have to maintain their usual high standard throughout if they are to trouble some of the other top colleges.

The evening’s final game saw Awatere’s final outing of the season.

The Tussocks have provided plenty of entertainment this year, improving as they went along. With nothing at stake against Toko they played with abandon and a smile on their faces, throwing themselves around court right up to the final whistle, but were no match for the Picton crew, who score at a dizzy pace when the reins are let loose. They put up 98 shots during the 60 minutes, allowing their opponents just 54 goal attempts. Haze Tepuia, who continues to impress with his accuracy and court work, dropped in 53 of his 60 shots, his partnership with Gemma Hika in the attacking circle providing a major headache for defenders who are unable to concentrate on one or the other.

Despite unpredictability being a feature of this year’s premier competition, Toko and Pelorus will start as early favourites for the semis. However, both Harlequins and SMOG have shown over many seasons that they love a final, so no-one will be writing off their chances, setting up a riveting conclusion to an entertaining season.

Scores:

Harlequins Radich Law 46 (Lauren Murray 15/16, Liv Hodson 22/35, Hayley Marfell 9/15) SMOG Good Home 42 (Lucy Barrett 23/27, Kate Gaudin 19/24). Quarter scores (winning team first): 16-9, 11-15, 10-7, 12-8.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 82 (Haze Tepuia 53/60, Gemma Hika 29/38) Awatere 39 (Tracee Lee 15/21, Aimee Jones 24/33). Quarter scores: 17-12, 22-10, 21-9, 22-8.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 57 (Paige Lovell 39/55, Olivia Pinkerton 17/24, Courtney Taufa 1/1) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 40 (Anna Gardiner 18/24, Taila Town 12/16, Isabella Rohloff 10/12). Quarter scores: 12-11, 11-8, 18-9, 16-12.

Round three final standings: Tokomaru 13 (differential +66), Pelorus 13 (differential +39), Harlequins 9, SMOG 8, MGC 6, Awatere 3.

Semifinal draw (tonight): Tokomaru v SMOG; Pelorus v Harlequins.

Final will be played on September 7 (Saturday).

Harlequins’ wing attack Maighan Watson fires the ball into the circle during Tuesday’s game against Pelorus. Photo: Peter Jones.

Two teams clinch semifinal spots

Two of the semifinalists in the Marlborough premier netball competition were decided at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night, with three sides left to scrap for the remaining two places.

Pelorus and Tokomaru will contest the play-offs, no matter what eventuates in the final week of round robin matches next Tuesday.

Pelorus made sure of their place with a 47-39 victory over Harlequins, who are now locked in a three-way battle for the final play-off positions with SMOG and Marlborough Girls’ College, whose upset 65-63 victory over Tokomaru kept them in the title hunt.

Awatere are the only side who definitely won’t be featuring in the semis, despite picking up a bonus point in their 57-52 loss to SMOG on Tuesday.

As has been the case over the past month, results were unpredictable last week, teams paying a hefty price for small lapses in concentration and intensity.

Tokomaru, fresh from a morale-boosting win over Pelorus last week, were punished for a slow start against a revitalized MGC team.

Trailing by nine going into the final quarter Toko finally found their rhythm, clawing back seven goals as the students began to falter with the finish line in sight, but came up short.

MGC were able to create pressure on the ball meant for Toko’s formidable shooting duo of Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika, picking up enough turnovers to build momentum. At the other end, Anna Gardiner and Taila Town both converted at a high percentage to ensure Toko’s mistakes were punished, Gardiner often scoring from long range.

Athletic midcourters Mya Wiapo and Eleri James-Sitters were influential in slowing Toko’s flow, along with circle defenders Olivia Robinson and Oakley Tepuia.

The Picton side were far from their ruthless best, but Brooke Horton stood out on defence, along with Savannah Lawrence, while Kayla Wilson glided through midcourt and fed the circle well.

If Toko were left rueing a slow start, Harlequins were even tardier out of the blocks.

Down by 12 at halftime they had reduced the margin to eight by the final whistle but overcoming the early deficit was always going to be a problem against such as efficient outfit as Pelorus.

The midcourt trio of Kelsie Fitzpatrick, Jenna Gilbert and Jordan Peipi gelled well, while the return of Oriana Houra in defence added options at the back, alongside the ever-reliable Courtney Taufa.

Paige Lovell carried the majority of the shooting load, putting up 80 percent of her side’s shots, many from distance.

Quins were well served by wing attack Maighan Watson, who never stopped trying, shooter Lauren Murray and their long-limbed defender Jackson McLaren.

The evening’s final match also looked headed for a decisive outcome after SMOG, perhaps stung by their last-round loss to the Tussock Jumpers, pulled away to a healthy seven-goal lead at the first break. With mobile shooters Kate Gaudin and Lucy Barrett regularly hitting the target and the experienced Bonnie Morris directing traffic at the back, they seemed well in control.

But Awatere have proved they are made of stern stuff of late and the shared the second quarter, then took out the third by seven goals to level the scores at 39-39 heading into the final 15 minutes.

However, their recovery merely signaled another SMOG spurt, the Ladies in Black producing a 12-4 run to begin the last stanza and create enough distance between the sides to allow them a relatively comfortable buffer when the final whistle blew.

Wing attack Ella-Rose Hammond, centre Mereana Ave and wing defence Jesse Volavola were instrumental in SMOG’s late revival, while middies Nicole Witterick and Courtney Ryan, plus the indefatigable Aimee Jones and the accurate Tracee Lee shone for Awatere.

 

Scores:

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 65 (Anna Gardiner 39/47, Taila Town 26/28) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 63 (Haze Tepuia 50/55, Gemma Hika 13/19). Quarter scores (winning team first): 15-16, 19-12, 17-14, 14-21.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 47 (Paige Lovell 42/58, Laura Murphy 5/14) Harlequins Radich Law 39 (Lauren Murray 18/24, Liv Hodson 15/20, Hayley Marfell 6/6. Quarter scores: 14-9, 14-7, 12-11, 7-12.

SMOG Good Home 57 (Lucy Barrett 18/22, Kate Gaudin 39/45) Awatere 52 (Tracee Lee 17/21, Aimee Jones 35/44). Quarter scores: 15-8, 13-13, 11-18, 18-13.

Round three standings: Tokomaru 10, Pelorus 10, SMOG 7, Harlequins 6, MGC 6, Awatere 3.

Next week: Harlequins v SMOG; Pelorus v MGC; Tokomaru v Awatere. Semifinals on August 27 (Tuesday), final on September 7 (Saturday).

Tokomaru centre Hana Wilson goes aerial during her side’s thrilling match with Pelorus on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netball matches go down to wire

Tokomaru flexed their premier netball muscle during another exciting night of premier netball at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000.

Two of Tuesday’s matches went right to the wire, the losing teams picking up bonus points for finishing within five goals.

Toko came away with a 61-58 win over Pelorus in a top-of-the-table clash, while defending champions SMOG picked up their first victory of the third round, downing Marlborough Girls’ College 50-45.

The night’s other match saw Harlequins run away with their clash against Awatere, prevailing 74-30.

The evening’s action opened with the Toko v Pelorus encounter, a match many predicted could be a dress rehearsal for the premier final on September 7. If next month’s title-decider provides as good a spectacle, the supporters will go home happy.

Tuesday’s clash was tight throughout. Pelorus opened strongly, racing out to a 13-4 advantage halfway through the first quarter as goal shoot Paige Lovell quickly got into her work, eventually nailing 15 of her 17 attempts in the first 15 minutes, most from long range.

Trailing by three heading into the second quarter, Toko clawed their way into a one-goal halftime lead, their primary shooter Haze Tepuia landing all 14 of his attempts on his way to a staggering 53 from 54 overall stat.

The beginning of the third quarter saw Pelorus rebound and quickly establish a four-goal lead, wing defence Jordan Peipi showing the way, but the loss of goal attack Olivia Pinkerton with an ankle injury slowed their momentum and once again Toko closed the gap, with the Wilson sisters Hana and Kayla, beginning to find more space in midcourt.

The final 15 minutes saw the score see-saw, both teams looking for a slight edge that would get them over the line.

That advantage came in the final few minutes, a couple of missed goals from Pelorus plus a turnover allowing Toko to forge a winning margin and pick up a major psychological boost heading into the business end of the season.

Outstanding for the victors were defensive players Michaela Boaz and Savannah Lawrence, but their win was built around the imposing accuracy of Tepuia, who is set to have a big say in the final stages of the season.

Pelorus were well served by Lovell, Peipi, Laura Murphy and Jenna Gilbert and will take some learnings from tonight’s loss. The return from maternity leave of defender Rianna Burger was a welcome sight for a team that have their fair share of injuries but now lead the competition on their own.

A revitalised SMOG outfit were also caught up in a thriller, but ultimately showed their big match experience to outlast MGC.

Again, this game could have gone either way. Indeed, when MGC went on an 8-2 run to open the final quarter it appeared the students may have found the formula but SMOG, with reliable shooters Kate Gaudin and Lucy Barrett to the fore, stopped throwing away ball and outscored their rivals 9-2 to shut the game down.

In the end it was MGC who would rue loose passes and poor option-taking as their attempts to play the game at high speed regularly came unstuck.

Bonnie Morris, Mereana Ave and Katie Cunningham performed well on defence for the victors, with Katie Bradley again providing the glue in midcourt.

Mya Wiapo and Olivia Robinson ensured SMOG’s shooters worked hard for success, while Ella Donald, Eleri James-Sitters and Anna Gardiner shone on attack.

The evening’s other game turned into something of a mis-match, especially with Awatere losing the influential Ashleigh Childs to an ankle injury in the first 10 minutes.

The resulting reshuffle disturbed the Tussock Jumpers’ rhythm and they never fully recovered, trailing Quins 18-7 at the first break and 43-14 by halftime. The scoring stats demonstrate the game’s flow, Harlequins putting up 101 shots, Awatere just 42 in 60 minutes.

Hayley Lammas and the ever-improving Jackson McLaren thrived at the defensive end for Quins while Lauren Murray and Liv Hodson produced high percentage shooting at the other. Bridget Gane, Sophie Robinson and Maighan Watson added to Quins’ overall supremacy.

Awatere got their usual whole-hearted effort from Demelza Teddy, Aimee Jones and Nicole Witterick, who wore the centre, wing attack, goal shoot and latterly goal attack bibs on a disjointed evening.

Scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 61 (Haze Tepuia 53/54, Gemma Hika 8/14) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 58 (Olivia Pinkerton 7/7, Paige Lovell 42/50, Laura Murphy 9/12). Quarter scores (winning team first): 14-17, 16-12, 15-12, 16-17.

SMOG Good Home 50 (Lucy Barrett 24/30, Kate Gaudin 26/30) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 45 (Isabella Rohloff 12/17, Anna Gardiner 20/25, Taila Town 13/19). Quarter scores: 15-16, 12-8, 12-11, 11-10.

Harlequins Radich Law 74 (Lauren Murray 38/48, Liv Hodson 24/31, Hayley Marfell 12/22) Awatere 30 (Tracee Lee 4/6, Aimee Jones 21/28, Nicole Witterick 5/8). Quarter scores: 18-7, 25-7, 12-8, 19-8.

Round three standings: Tokomaru 9, Pelorus 7, Harlequins 6, SMOG 4, MGC 3, Awatere 2.

Tokomaru wing attack Kayla Wilson claims the ball in front of SMOG defender Jesse Volavola at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones. 

Two move to top of netball table

While there were no blow-out scores on Tuesday evening, three teams came away from Stadium 2000 with decisive wins.

Following the second week of Marlborough premier netball’s third round, Pelorus and Tokomaru sit side-by-side at the top of the points table after beating Awatere and SMOG respectively, 51-35 and 60-51, while Harlequins made a final round statement with a 54-43 victory over Marlborough Girls’ College.

The evening’s first match appeared to be going all the way to the wire, especially when SMOG led Toko by five goals at halftime. A low error-rate coupled with some slick shooting from Kate Gaudin and Lucy Barrett, tenacious work in midcourt by Katie Bradley and Sarah Hammond, plus athletic defensive work by Bonnie Morris and Jesse Volavola gave the Ladies in Black a distinct edge in the first half hour.

However, Toko are nothing if not resolute and in Gemma Hika, who shot at 100 percent, and their main target Haze Tepuia, they have a scoring combination who can rack up goals at a serious pace.

They won the third quarter by five, levelling the scores with 15 minutes to go.

Then the Picton crew turned on the afterburners. While SMOG’s error rate allowed them just 10 shots at goal in the decisive period, Toko put up 24, underlining the difference in composure and finishing power.

The Wilson twins, Kayla and Hana, again demonstrated their silky skills in midcourt, while Michaela Boaz, Brooke Horton and the Lawrence sisters, Savannah and Naia, contributed strongly to a hard-fought but deserved victory.

The following match, between Harlequins and MGC followed a vastly different pattern, Quins jumping out of the blocks quickly and opening up a 14-goal lead by halftime, a gulf the students were never going to bridge.

With shooters Lauren Murray and Liv Hodson taking full advantage of the wealth of possession and turnover ball that came their way, Quins appeared a genuine championship contender. Bridget Gane, Sophie Robinson and Maighan Watson provided drive and direction in midcourt while Hayley Lammas and the ever-improving youngster Jackson McLaren punished any wayward passes and missed shots at the defensive end, despite missing the services of regular Taylor Rogers through an injury that may keep her out for the remainder of the season.

Anna Gardiner was a tower of strength for MGC, especially in the second half, the goal shooter dropping in 19 goals from 20 attempts, many from long distance.

Oakley Tepuia and Lily Tiueti impressed on defense for an MGC side who are now under pressure to make the semifinals.

The evening’s last match featured Awatere, the surprise package of recent weeks who are improving week by week, against round two winners Pelorus.

Ultimately the favourites prevailed, but not without a struggle. They won three of the four quarters, drawing the other, but it was the first period of play that made the most difference.

After 15 minutes Awatere trailed 14-5, a deficit they never seriously threatened to bridge from then on.

Pelorus, with Courtney Taufa and Kelsie Fitzpatrick in the defensive circle, restricted the fluency of Awatere’s attack for long spells, while midcourters Jenna Gilbert, Laura Murphy and Jordan Peipi created space and found good angles for reliable shooters Paige Lovell and Olivia Pinkerton. Despite the loss of key defenders in Danielle Moffatt and Oriana Houra, Pelorus continue to shuffle their playing cards and find a way to get the job done.

Awatere’s skipper Nicole Witterick, named MVP for the previous round, was again influential, while Aimee Jones and Ashleigh Childs, in the attacking circle, battled hard to make the most of the ball that came their way.

Despite letting this one slip, the Tussock Jumpers showed resilience in preventing a score blow-out, underlining their threat to all comers in this final round.

Scores:

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 60 (Haze Tepuia 50/57, Gemma Hika 10/10) SMOG Good Home 51 (Lucy Barrett 21/25, Kate Gaudin 30/32. Quarter scores (winning team first): 16-18, 10-13, 15-10, 19-10.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 51 (Olivia Pinkerton 8/13, Paige Lovell 39/55, Laura Murphy 4/8) Awatere 35 (Tracee Lee 2/6, Aimee Jones 25/39, Ashleigh Childs 8/17). Quarter scores: 14-5, 13-13, 13-8, 11-9.

Harlequins Radich Law 54 (Lauren Murray 31/47, Liv Hodson 23/26) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 43 (Isabella Rohloff 9/12, Anna Gardiner 29/36, Taila Town 5/5). Quarter scores: 15-5, 17-13, 9-14, 13-11.

Round three standings: Pelorus 6, Tokomaru 6, Harlequins 3, Awatere 2, MGC 2, SMOG 1.

McKynlee Breen, left, and reserve umpire Kate Fraser after the national under-17 final. Photo: Supplied.

Final appointment a career highlight for young umpire

Handling pressure and responsibility is nothing new to up-and-coming netball umpire McKynlee Breen.

The 19-year-old, a former Marlborough Girls’ College head girl, recently controlled the Netball NZ under-17 tournament final in Auckland, another step on her pathway to bigger and better officiating appointments.

She labelled her selection to umpire at that level and then her promotion to the U17 final, between Waitakere and Manawatu, as the undoubted highlights of her career so far.

“Initially being chosen for the tournament was quite a surprise because I was only awarded my New Zealand C [umpiring] badge two months ago so I wasn’t expecting to be chosen. However, my name was put forward and I was assessed and passed, so that was a massive achievement.

“I had a lot of support. My intent wasn’t to umpire the big games, it was just to learn from the experience as it was my first Netball NZ tournament.”

However, McKynlee’s efforts during a tight quarterfinal saw the umpiring adjudicators message her at night, telling her she had been chosen to handle the tournament decider.

“There was a little bit of pressure, but I had a very intense quarterfinal … so that prepped me well heading into the semis and the final.”

She recalled that although there were plenty of nerves before the national title decider began, they evaporated as soon as the first whistle was blown.

“North Island teams play a different style of netball, it was nice netball to read and I was able to let quite a lot of contesting go.

“Quite often I find with South Island teams there is just unnecessary contact and players waiting for the calls, whereas up north they play netball and contest beautifully, so it made for a really nice game [to umpire] actually.

“At the end of the game I was just buzzing because I felt I had done a good job.”

McKynlee is in her second year at the University of Canterbury, where she is studying for a health science degree in health education with a view to working in the mental health area.

Fitness and speed around the perimeter of the court is needed for top level umpiring, as McKynlee shows in this photo. Photo: Supplied.
Fitness and speed around the perimeter of the court is needed for top level umpiring, as McKynlee shows in this photo. Photo: Supplied.

She was a member of the MGC senior A netball team for three seasons and, although she still enjoys playing the game, gets an even bigger kick from umpiring.

“I love umpiring because you are thinking a lot more. As a player you are often just thinking of yourself but as an umpire you are thinking about absolutely everything so it’s a good way to keep you on your toes.

“I want to go out and support the players to have the best possible game they can have.”

She says there is no better feeling than seeing smiles on the faces of both sides after a game, knowing that you have facilitated a good game for them.

McKynlee began umpiring at junior level in Marlborough and has a few people to thank for supporting her ambitions as she made her way up the ladder.

“Michelle Stagg is a gorgeous umpire so to have her in our area we are very lucky and I have learned heaps off her.

“My parents [Robyn and Mike Breen] have also been very supportive … umpiring isn’t always an easy sport, because you take a lot of flak sometimes, and you have to learn to be tough. If I have had a rough game they have always been great at picking me up and helping me move on with it.”

“Jan Gallop pushed me through my zone badge and gave me lots of coaching. She has always provided awesome support.”

While based in Christchurch, McKynlee has been adopted by the local umpiring fraternity who have allocated her a coach. She umpires at all levels in Christchurch, up to premier one grade.

“They have taken me under their wing and been amazing at pushing me to my limits. They always offer constructive feedback, just to make my game better.”

Although she has no lofty ambitions at this stage, she is keen to “keep pushing through the ranks” and continue to be selected for national tournaments.

With NZ netball riding the crest of a wave buoyed by World Cup success, team numbers will surely rise, meaning more umpires will be needed.

If the job is half as much fun as McKynlee makes it sound, then there should be no shortage of volunteers.

MGC midcourt player Ella Donald rises high to haul in a pass during Tuesday’s thriller with Awatere. Photo: Peter Jones.

Netball competition tightens up

Perhaps taking a lead from the Silver Ferns’ efforts at the Netball World Cup, Marlborough’s premier netballers produced some close, entertaining encounters at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.

The evening’s first match was decided by a single goal, the next game was drawn, while the night’s final game was tight most of the way through.

The opening game featured the previous round’s top team, Pelorus, against the bottom-placed side, SMOG. Both sides had played on Sunday, SMOG in a promotion/relegation battle and Pelorus in the Tasman Trophy encounter.

On form Pelorus started as firm favourite but SMOG, perhaps buoyed by their hefty win on Sunday, lifted their game and showed they cannot be dismissed as semifinal contenders.

In the end, Pelorus prevailed 49-48, having just enough goals in the bank to stave off a determined SMOG final quarter revival.

The loss of defender Oriana Houra, who was injured on Sunday, and shooter Olivia Pinkerton, early in tonight’s game, disrupted Pelorus who began with Courtney Taufa and Kelsie Fitzpatrick in the defensive circle but had to make early changes, Taufa moving to the attacking end and Carrie Anderson coming on at goal keep.

Despite the reshuffle Pelorus began strongly, racing out to a 17-10 first quarter lead before, as they did all match, SMOG bounced back to take the second stanza 14-11 and trail by just four at the halftime break.

Pelorus edged SMOG by one in the third quarter to take a five-goal lead into the final 15 minutes and although the Ladies in Black, led by a superb 93 percent shooting performance from Kate Gaudin, clawed back four of the deficit, they ran out of time to close the gap completely.

Paige Lovell was reliable under the hoop for Pelorus while Jenna Gilbert, alternating between centre and wing defence, provided midcourt energy and vision, along with Laura Murphy who was used in three positions.

SMOG brought on coach Janine Jordaan in the second spell, offering them more height in the attacking circle and, when their feeders found their range, this tactic began to work effectively. Defender Bonnie Morris and midcourter Katie Bradley showed their experience as the match began to tighten up.

Awatere underlined their improvement and showed they mean business in the final round with a 52-52 draw against the more-favoured Marlborough Girls’ College side.

The Tussock Jumpers, who have won only once in the top grade, went mighty close to repeating the dose against the students who held a one-goal lead in the final few seconds only to lose possession, allowing Tracee Lee to drop in the equalizing goal.

It was no more than Awatere deserved for a gutsy performance, led by skipper Nicole Witterick in the centre’s bib and their whole-hearted goal attack Aimee Jones, who handled the bulk of the shooting and grabbed some crucial rebounds.

Ashleigh Childs, at wing attack, controlled play superbly, her combination with Witterick and the circle attackers improving each week.

At the back Courtney Ryan, Harriet Ryan and Demelza Teddy battled all the way, disrupting MGC’s flow of possession and forcing turnovers.

Their rivals led by four at three quarter time and should have put the game to bed. Wing attack Ella Donald, Eleri James-Sitters, shooters Anna Gardiner and Taila Town, plus defender Mya Wiapo, all had their good moments but the team was unable to step up in the final 15 minutes when the game hung in the balance.

The night’s final match provided a decent turnaround from their previous encounter. The last time Harlequins and Tokomaru met, Quins prevailed by 10 goals. Tonight the boot was firmly on the other foot, Toko winning 58-45.

Up until halftime the match was close. Quins won the first quarter by four, Toko taking the second by six. A 15-12 third stanza allowed Toko to take a five-goal advantage into the final period and they made no mistake when it came to closing this one out, winning the last quarter 17-9.

Again, Toko’s attacking end was to the fore, Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika converting most of the possession that came their way. Twins Kayla and Hana Wilson’s athleticism in midcourt, the doughty defence of Naia and Savannah Lawrence, plus Michaela Boaz’s anticipation meant there was little respite for Quins’ attack and defence.

The return of Lauren Murray was a boost for Quins, the reliable shooter operating at a creditable 82 percent after a lengthy break from the game.

Defender Jackson McLaren was a ball of energy, as was Maighan Watson, while keeper Hayley Lammas grabbed some important interceptions.

Toko coach Vanessa Hika said the close games were, “a great way to start the third round”.

“It’s anybody’s competition, it just depends how you turn up on the night.”

Scores:

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 49 (Olivia Pinkerton 0/1, Paige Lovell 31/39, Courtney Taufa 15/20, Laura Murphy 3/5) SMOG Good Home 48 (Lucy Barrett 11/15, Kate Gaudin 28-30, Janine Jordaan 9/15). Quarter scores (winning team first): 17-10, 11-14, 12-11, 9-13.

Awatere 52 (Tracee Lee 13/18, Aimee Jones 39/49) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 52 (Isabella Rohloff 14/18, Taila Town 11/12, Anna Gardiner 27/32). Quarter scores (Awatere first): 13-15, 14-13, 11-14, 14-10.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 58 (Haze Tepuia 36/41, Gemma Hika 22/33) Harlequins Radich Law 45 (Hayley Marfell 6/14, Lauren Murray 39/47). Quarter scores: 10-14, 16-10, 15-12, 17-9.

Round three standings: Pelorus 3, Tokomaru 3, Awatere 2, MGC 2, SMOG 1, Harlequins 0.

Jacks’ skipper Jess Drummond prepares to feed the ball into shooter Rayna Olsen at Marlborough Lines Stadium. The Pelorus defender is Oriana Houra. Photo: Peter Jones.

Nelson raiders lift netball trophy

Netball’s Tasman Trophy will return to Nelson after Jacks OPD produced a controlled performance to down Pelorus at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 on Sunday.

Jacks, the unbeaten leaders of the Nelson competition, proved too strong for their Marlborough counterparts, prevailing 58-49.

Pelorus, who took out the second round title on this side of the hill, were unable to win a quarter in a high-paced encounter. They trailed by eight at halftime and despite creating some turnovers in the second spell, were unable to make a dent in the deficit.

Their rivals, who brought just eight players eastward, were clinical. Shooters Rayna Olsen and Hannah Dawson worked the attacking circle superbly, creating space for each other and moving the home town defence around. Their midcourters played with pace and accuracy, led initially by skipper Jess Drummond and Bayly Templeton, and latterly Charlotte Donaldson.

In defence, Kirsty Thompson, Anna Miles and Kate Andrews did a sterling job restricting their rival’s entry to the circle.

Pelorus struggled from the outset to move the ball freely through midcourt, mainly thanks to their opponent’s zone defence.

Consequently, passes became forced rather than measured and turnovers eventuated as the pattern that has served Pelorus so well this season was disrupted.

Although they hung tough in the first quarter, which ended at 13-10, Pelorus struggled to find an easy path into key shooter Paige Lovell and the reliable Olivia Pinkerton.

Things got worse for the locals in the second quarter, won by five by Jacks, with wing defence Thompson’s work outstanding.

Down 31-23 at the break, the home side lifted. Goal defence Oriana Houra worked hard to keep Pelorus afloat, while wing defence Jenna Gilbert and centre Laura Murphy also began to exert an influence. Lovell and Pinkerton made the most of limited possession.

Although they created enough opportunities to claw their way back and narrowed the deficit to four midway through the quarter, their transition was often laboured and inaccurate, meaning Jacks’ advantage remained unchanged entering the last stanza.

The final 15 minutes was also evenly contested but the damage had already been done, Jacks showing ruthless efficiency to stave off any late Pelorus pressure.

In the final quarter, Lovell made way in the shooting circle for the versatile Courtney Taufa, until an injury to Houra saw Taufa return to defence with Lovell re-entering the fray.

Last season SMOG claimed the Tasman Trophy against Prices Pharmacy, also away from home, so Jacks’ skipper Drummond was excited to be bringing the trophy back to Nelson.

“It’s really nice for us to play somewhere else … we also had quality umpiring, which is nice.

“Pelorus were an unknown team – we had no idea what they were like so we came over here with open minds and stuck to our structures and processes.

“We made a few changes and I thought we adapted really well, which we haven’t always been able to do so quickly in our Nelson competition. We had good connection in the shooting circle today and patience with feeding our triangles … that was good to see.”

Drummond is a big fan of the Tasman Trophy concept.

“I love it. It would be good if we did it every round or even have the top two teams up against each other … it’s always good to get a win outside our home province.”

Scores: Jacks OPD 58 (Rayna Olsen 40/49, Hannah Dawson 18/25) Pelorus Edridge Contracting 49 (Paige Lovell 33/49, Courtney Taufa 4/4, Olivia Pinkerton 12/13). Quarter scores (winning team first): 13-10, 18-13, 11-11, 16-15.

Promotion/relegation

Meanwhile, earlier on Sunday the sixth team to contest the final round of Marlborough premier play was confirmed.

SMOG Good Home took out the promotion/relegation battle with Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern 68-39 and will remain in the top echelon.

SMOG dominated throughout at the stadium, winning all four quarters with a hefty possession advantage. Consistent operators Kate Gaudin and Lucy Barrett put up 80 shots compared with Quins’ 58. The possession imbalance was created by a relentless all-court defence, led by hard-working SMOG middies Mereana Ave, Sarah Hammond and Katie Bradley, plus Bonnie Morris, Katie Cunningham and Mahina Henry-Campbell in the circle.

Quins’ shooters, Naomi Brownlee and Cathy Kitto produced good percentages with the ball they received, while midcourter Sherie Gapper and defender Mandy O’Malley battled hard throughout.

On Saturday, Quins beat Pelorus Farmlands 36-26 in the grade one decider at Lansdowne Park to progress to Sunday’s match.

Scores: SMOG Good Home 68 (Kate Gaudin 32/39, Lucy Barrett 36/41) Harlequins Woodbourne Tavern 39 (Naomi Brownlee 23/37, Cathy Kitto 16/21). Quarter scores (winning team first): 17-7, 14-11, 21-11, 16-10.