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.

MGC shooters Isabella Rohloff, left, and Taila Town congratulate each other after landing another goal against SMOG on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Pelorus take step towards netball crown

Pelorus underlined their on-going ambitions when they wrapped up second round honours in Marlborough premier netball at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday.

They have been building a team capable of claiming a first-ever premiership for the country club and will start the third round as favourites to do just that.

On Tuesday, Pelorus and MGC came to the courts locked on 10 competition points, both sides requiring victories to remain in contention. They duly delivered, Pelorus downing Awatere 67-42 while the students took care of SMOG 59-42, however Pelorus take the title on a goal differential countback, enjoying a +83 differential while MGC ended with +65.

At the other end of the table, SMOG’s run of losses continued, meaning they will now play a promotion/relegation match against the grade one winners at Stadium 2000 on July 21.

In the evening’s first match, Harlequins sealed third spot on the table, just one adrift of the front-runners, accounting for Tokomaru 63-53.

Quins had a dominant final quarter to thank for their victory, after leading by just a single goal at three quarter time.

The input of former MGC shooter Malia Manoa could not be underestimated. Apart from shooting 40 goals from 45 attempts she worked well in the circle with regular Hayley Marfell, dropping in 14 from 14 in the final stanza.

Georgie Bryce at wing attack added energy and drive in the final 15 minutes, Jackson McLaren and Hayley Lammas worked hard in defense throughout while Bridget Gane directed traffic astutely in mid court.

Again, Haze Tepuia turned on a near perfect shooting performance for Toko, landing 31 from 32 attempts. The Wilson twins, Kayla and Hana, combined superbly to bring the ball through court while Michaela Boaz and the Lawrence sisters, Naia and Savannah, snapped up any loose ball on defense.

Awatere, buoyed by their first win last week, took the game to Pelorus in the first quarter. Although Pelorus won it 14-10 the “Tussocks” showed their intent and renewed confidence.

However Pelorus were too consistent through court over the full 60 minutes, especially with former Quins shooter Paige Lovell in the goal shoot’s bib. Lovell dominated the circle, offering a reliable target for her eager feeders and handled the bulk of the shooting duties, with regular Courtney Taufa moving back into the goal keep’s role.

She paired well with the athletic Oriana Houra in the defensive circle, regularly denying clean ball to the Awatere shooters.

The versatile Laura Murphy also had a short stint in the shooting circle, adding to the team’s growing depth.

Pelorus play/coach Courtney Taufa said she was “stoked for the Pelorus club and also for the team”.

“We have trained hard and I think we are in a good place … we are a very versatile team.

“The arrival of Paige has given us more options … and Laura [Murphy] adds guidance and leadership to the mix. We also have four players who have won previous championships in Paige, Jenna [Gilbert], myself and Laura so there is plenty of experience.”

Awatere’s Aimee Jones and Tracee Lee did their best with the possession that came their way, but frequent turnovers slowed their flow of ball and denied them a chance to establish a rapid scoring rhythm.

Defenders Harriet and Courtney Ryan continued their improvement at this level.

MGC have been a much more consistent unit this round and underlined their growing maturity with a bold effort against SMOG.

The match was evenly poised at three quarter time, the students leading by just four, however they put their foot on the gas to reel off a 19-6 final quarter and quickly put the game out of reach.

Shooters Isabella Rohloff and Taila Town were in an accurate mood, both landing high percentages, Olivia Robinson and Mya Wiapo preyed on any defensive opportunities while Ella Donald and Neve Godsiff provided thrust and direction in mid court.

Katie Cunningham and Bonnie Morris defended well for SMOG who lost regular shooter Kate Gaudin early with a leg injury. Coach Janine Jordaan entered the fray in the first quarter and showed she still has the skills, working well with Lucy Barrett despite limited possession. Katie Bradley turned in another whole-hearted effort in mid court.

Premier netball resumes on July 23.

Scores:

Harlequins Radich Law 63 (Hayley Marfell 23/31, Malia Manoa 40/45) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 53 (Haze Tepuia 31/32, Gemma Hika 22/31). Quarter scores (winning team first): 18-14, 10-16, 16-13, 19-10.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 67 (Olivia Pinkerton 11/13, Paige Lovell 51/64, Laura Murphy 5/6) Awatere 42 (Tracee Lee 13/20, Aimee Jones 28/43, Courtney Ryan 1/2). Quarter scores: 14-10, 18-11, 14-10, 21-11.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 59 (Isabella Rohloff 26/32, Taila Town 33/39) SMOG Good Home 42 (Lucy Barrett 11/16, Kate Gaudin 2/2, Janine Jordaan 29/41) Quarter scores: 17-9, 9-14, 14-13, 19-6.

Round two final standings: Pelorus 13, MGC 13, Harlequins 12, Tokomaru 6, Awatere 3, SMOG 1.

The smiles say it all as Awatere netballers Aimee Jones, back to camera, Nicole Witterick, Tracee Lee and Ashleigh Childs celebrate victory at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday night. Photo: Peter Jones.

‘Tussocks’ grab breakthrough win

Awatere’s premier netballers walked out of Stadium 2000 with their heads held high after claiming their first victory in the top grade on Tuesday.

“The Tussock Jumpers”, who have battled away in premiers since the second round in 2018, downed defending champs SMOG 50-49 to create a slice of history for the Seddon-based club.

At the final whistle, the players, who have battled through several promotion/relegation battles to remain in the top tier, threw their hands in the air, hugged and celebrated as if they had won the title.

And so they should have. Their first premier triumph has been a long time coming. Tuesday’s match was their 19th since entering the premier grade in June last year, but they were finally rewarded for their perseverance and hard work, plus the fact some players have to travel long distances to train and play.

Coach Kate Shadbolt admitted that when they were being beaten by 40 goals it was hard to see where the win would come from, but said they never lost belief.

“It’s been really hard to get here but I knew that they were too good to stay in grade one.

“They all gelled as a team tonight … we also wanted to avoid another relegation game if possible, which we may have to yet, but they wanted it more tonight.

“It just shows what the country girls can bring to the premier grade.”

On several occasions, this season and last Awatere have threatened to tip over a premier rival only to turn in a poor quarter or run out of gas in the final stanza.

This time they made no mistake, hanging tough as SMOG levelled the scores with five minutes to play, then went ahead.

As the final minutes ticked down Awatere managed to reclaim the lead and, with some desperate play, hold onto it.

The possession stats strongly favoured Awatere who put up 73 goal attempts to SMOG’s 54, crucial given SMOG’s shooters were on target. A string of turnovers created by the inspired defence throughout the court tilted the balance. Leading the way was inspirational centre Nicole Witterick, while defenders Demelza Terry and Harriet Ryan fought for every scrap of loose ball in their area.

Courtney Ryan at wing defence and Ashleigh Childs at wing attack offered stability and accurate feeding while shooters Tracee Lee and Aimee Jones, despite operating under pressure, landed the goals that counted, Jones especially impressive gathering rebounds.

SMOG were left to rue a string of possession frittered away, especially with goal attack Kate Gaudin shooting at 100 per cent and goal shoot Lucy Barrett not far behind. Bonnie Morris worked hard in defence, along with Katie Cunningham, while Sarah Hammond was energetic and creative in the midcourt.

The night’s other two matches were less thrilling, with wider scorelines and one minor upset.

Marlborough Girls’ College notched a comprehensive 62-50 win over Tokomaru while Pelorus underlined their recent form with a 60-37 victory over Harlequins.

Defenders Olivia Robinson, Oakley Tepuia and Mya Wiapo managed to disrupt the normally slick shooting combination of Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika, while Anna Gardiner and Taila Town produced a high percentage of goals at the other end. Neve Godsiff made a fine impression when she entered the game at halftime, while Lily Tiueti had another top outing.

Kayla Wilson, Brooke Horton and Gemma Hika were Toko’s top performers.

The night’s final game saw a below-strength Harlequins line-up lose all four quarters to a Pelorus combination beginning to hit their straps.

As was the case in the previous games, one side strongly dominated possession – Pelorus putting up 77 shots to their rival’s 48.

With Olivia Pinkerton and Courtney Taufa on target in the shooting circle the score mounted quickly, while defenders Jalen King and Oriana Houra ensured any inaccuracy at the other end was punished.

Jackson McLaren, Bridget Gane, Maighan Watson and Cathy Kitto stood out in a losing cause.

Scores:

Awatere 50 (Tracee Lee 11/21, Aimee Jones 39/52) SMOG Good Home 49 (Lucy Barrett 29/34, Kate Gaudin 20/20) Quarter scores (winning team first: 12-13, 15-12, 12-11, 11-13.

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 62 (Isabella Rohloff 4/8, Anna Gardiner 40/53, Taila Town 18/24) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 50 (Haze Tepuia 35/38, Gemma Hika 15/21). Quarter scores: 16-14, 17-16, 17-10, 12-10.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 60 (Olivia Pinkerton 27/33, Courtney Taufa 26/33, Paige Lovell 7/11) Harlequins Radich Law 37 (Hayley Marfell 14/19, Cathy Kitto 23/29. Quarter scores: 15-10, 19-8, 12-8, 14-11.

Round two standings after four games: MGC 10, Pelorus 10, Harlequins 9, Tokomaru 6, Awatere 3, SMOG 1.

Tonight’s games: Harlequins v Tokomaru 6.15pm; Pelorus v Awatere 7.30pm; MGC v SMOG 8pm.

Harlequins defender Hayley Lammas grabs a timely interception in front of MGC shooter Taila Town during Tuesday’s early game. Photo: Peter Jones.

Quins recover from slow start to top table

A first-quarter scoring burst by Marlborough Girls’ College was not enough to keep Harlequins at bay during Tuesday’s premier netball action at Stadium 2000.

Quins recovered to take out a nail-biter 46-42, while Tokomaru comfortably accounted for Awatere 79-53 in the night’s second match and Pelorus kept SMOG winless in the final encounter, coming out on top 67-40.

However it was the first match-up that provided the most entertainment, the students’ lightning start catching Quins off guard. Some slick work by the MGC midcourt and accurate shooting from Anna Gardiner and Isabella Rohloff saw MGC establish a surprise 10-goal advantage at the first break.

Quins were stung into action, making a couple of crucial substitutions. Hayley Lammas came into goal keep after Taylor Rogers was forced from the court with an ankle injury, while former MGC shooting ace Malia Manoa and wing defence Anna Martin entered the fray in the second quarter.

The change was immediate. Lammas and Martin began to disrupt MGC’s attacking rhythm while Manoa’s movement in the circle and reliable shooting helped swing the momentum Quins’ way.

By halftime the deficit had been erased and the scores were level, by three quarter time, Quins held a one-goal advantage.

Sparked by the efforts of evergreen centre Bridget Gane, they established a three-goal lead midway through the final stanza before a run of goals saw MGC take the lead with three minutes to go.

However it was Quins, so cool under pressure, who closed the game out, Manoa picking up a crucial tip at halfway then combining with Marfell to drop in the go-ahead goals.

Quins used 10 players to get the job done, recovering superbly from a slow start, while MGC will have learned plenty from their inability to close out the game. Ella Donald was impressive in midcourt for the students, who welcomed previously-injured shooter Taila Town back in the second half, replacing Rohloff.

Awatere may have managed to score 53 goals in their match, but were unable to stop the Toko scoring juggernaut at the other end as the Picton-based side steadily pulled away through each quarter.

Haze Tepuia (58 from 63) and Gemma Hika (20 from 26) benefitted from accurate and inventive feeding from the Wilson twins, Kayla and Hana, to keep the scoreboard ticking over at a rapid rate. Tepuia’s rebounding also ensured his side picked up several second-chance goals.

In defence, Savannah Lawrence and Michaela Boaz worked hard, pressurizing ever-improving Awatere attackers, Aimee Jones and Tracee Lee.

With such an imbalance in possession (90 shots to 75) even if Toko’s shooters had been off their game it would have been hard for Awatere to get up. Although they will be heartened by the goals-for column, they will have to find a way to reduce the goals-against stats.

Nicole Witterick and newcomer Demelza Teddy, at goal defence, stood out for the Tussocks.

The night’s final clash saw Pelorus underline their growing confidence and combination, winning all four quarters against a SMOG side that never stopped trying.

Newcomer Jalen King, a former MGC standout, slotted smoothly into the Pelorus defensive circle for Danelle Moffatt, who is out for the season, quickly forging a smooth rapport with another impressive youngster, Oriana Houra.

The midcourt combo of Jenna Gilbert, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jordan Peipi continues to drive and thrive, while Courtney Taufa and Olivia Pinkerton combined to make the most of the fact their side were able to put up 30 more goal attempts than the Ladies in Black.

Pelorus player/coach Taufa was pleased with her side’s progress, noting that although they have lost a key player in Moffatt, others have immediately stepped up.

“I was stoked with how the young girls, Oriana and Jalen, went. Everyone is just backing each other and slotting in nicely. We train hard and are putting in extra work as a team … just making it work. It’s exciting.”

SMOG are struggling, missing key defender Bonnie Pearce tonight and having to do without reliable shooter Karli Murphy, who is pregnant, for the remainder of their campaign. Shooters Lucy Barrett and Kate Gaudin made the most of what possession they gained, while Sarah Hammond, Katie Bradley and Jesse Volavola put in big shifts.

Scores:

Harlequins Radich Law 46 (Hayley Marfell 18/29, Malia Manoa 25/30, Georgie Bryce 3/7) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 42 (Isabella Rohloff 8/11, Anna Gardiner 30/39, Taila Town 4/7). Quarter scores (winning team first): 5-15, 17-7, 11-10, 13-10.

Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 79 (Haze Tepuia 58/63, Gemma Hika 20/26, Kayla Wilson 1/1) Awatere 53 (Tracee Lee 15/20, Aimee Jones 38/55). Quarter scores: 20-14, 19-12, 18-13, 22-14.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 67 (Olivia Pinkerton 23/29, Courtney Taufa 44/52) SMOG Good Home 40 (Lucy Barrett 17/22, Kate Gaudin 23/29). Quarter scores: 20-10, 16-8, 14-13, 17-9.

Round two standings: Harlequins 9, MGC 7, Pelorus 7, Tokomaru 6, SMOG 0, Awatere 0.

Next week: SMOG v Awatere 6.15pm; MGC v Tokomaru 7.30pm; Harlequins v Pelorus 8pm.

Pelorus midcourter Jordan Peipi in action on Tuesday evening. Photo: Peter Jones.

Pelorus produce top performance

Pelorus sent a clear warning message to their Marlborough premier rivals at Stadium 2000 on Tuesday, downing Tokomaru 66-54 with an emphatic display of quality netball.

Toko have been in red hot form of late but had no answer to the improved drive through court and defensive pressure placed on them by a Pelorus side missing one leading player, but regaining another.

Key defender Danelle Moffatt injured her ankle during a rep game the previous weekend, ruling her out of Tuesday’s match, but co-captain Courtney Taufa returned to the fray after a few weeks off, also caused by an ankle injury.

Taufa’s presence lifted the Pelorus attacking end while Kelly West and Oriana Houra worked extra hard in the defensive circle to make up for Moffatt’s absence.

The result was an emphatic win to the “Ladies in Dark Blue”, who led by only two at halftime but produced a match-defining third quarter, winning it 21-9 to claim a 14-goal lead after 45 minutes. Toko were able to reduce the winning margin by two in the final stanza but never did enough to find the slick, quick-scoring game they so often produce.

The main difference was illustrated by the match stats. Pelorus dominated possession, putting up 85 shots to their opponents’ 57, meaning that although the Toko shooters, Haze Tepuia and Gemma Hika shot at their usual high percentage, with Hika landing 14 from 14, Pelorus were able to operate at a slightly lower percentage and still come out well on top.

Their shooting duo of Taufa and Olivia Pinkerton operated smoothly, receiving quality ball from middies Jordan Peipi, Kelsie Fitzpatrick and Jenna Gilbert as they produced arguably the side’s best performance of the season.

The night’s early game featured traditional rivals Harlequins and SMOG.

Quins won every quarter, albeit by smallish margins, slowly and surely squeezing SMOG out of the game to win 48-33. Missing ace shooter Lauren Murray, Harlequins were well served by replacement Cathy Kitto. Georgie Bryce, Bridget Gane and Mikayla Avant were prominent through midcourt, while Taylor Rogers, Jackson McLaren and Liv Hodson stood tall in the defensive circle.

Bonnie Morris, Katie Cunningham and Kate Gaudin were SMOG’s best as the “Ladies in Black” were forced to play catch-up netball from the outset once again. A quick start may be top of their wish list when they step onto court tonight.

Tuesday’s final game saw Marlborough Girls’ College romp away from Awatere 73-37. MGC led by 18 goals at halftime, the game effectively over, with their combinations gelling superbly to convert a wealth of possession, eventually putting up 86 shots to their rivals’ 53.

Isabella Rohloff and Anna Gardiner were both on target, sharing the shooting load, while Ella Donald and Eleri James-Sitters brought pace and purpose to the midcourt. Olivia Robinson and Lily Tueti were the pick of the defenders.

Awatere will be disappointed after their strong showing against Quins last week, but worked hard throughout, never giving up on a night when they were simply outclassed.

MGC coach Raramai Nicklin is happy with how her side is tracking at the moment. “We are definitely improving every week and putting together more of a consistent performance.

“In the first round we would have a good quarter then a couple not so good but we are certainly getting more accurate and scoring off more of our turnovers.”

Nicklin admits that the side’s goals have changed since the season began.

“At the beginning of the season it was about building good connections, the girls learning and enjoying their netball but, with the way they are going, I think there is an expectation that they want to go all the way in this competition.”

Scores:

Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 73 (Isabella Rohloff 26/32, Anna Gardiner 47/54) Awatere 37 (Tracee Lee 3/5, Aimee Jones 30/40, Ashleigh Childs 5/8). Quarter scores (winning team first): 19-8, 15-8, 22-13, 17-8.

Pelorus Edridge Contracting 66 (Olivia Pinkerton 24/32, Courtney Taufa 42/53) Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 54 (Haze Tepuia 40/43, Gemma Hika 14/14). Quarter scores: 14-12, 16-16, 21-9, 15-17.

Harlequins Radich Law 48 (Hayley Marfell 18/28, Cathy Kitto 30/38) SMOG Good Home 33 (Lucy Barrett 17/33, Kate Gaudin 16/22). Quarter scores: 13-7, 11-9, 12-10, 12-7.

Round two standings: Harlequins 6, Tokomaru 3, MGC 6, Pelorus 4, SMOG 0, Awatere 0.