David Havili steps inside Waikato captain Luke Jacobson. Photo: Shuttersport.

Mako skipper leads the way

From the outset, the Tasman Mako have been blessed with outstanding leaders.

In recent times, current coaches Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie led various campaigns with calm authority and the ability to inspire those around them with both deeds and words.

Now David Havili has the captain’s role, and what a fine leader he has become.

In today’s Mitre 10 Cup table-topping premiership clash with Waikato his astounding variety of skills were on display.

Losing the toss was probably his only mistake of the afternoon, but it meant his side had to play the first 40 into a strong north-westerly wind.

With the home team under the pump early as the Mooloo men strove to take advantage of the conditions and boss the game it was the skipper who turned the tables, snatching a timely interception and sprinting 70m to score against the run of play.

His second try stretched the Mako lead to 27-5 early in the second spell then, when Waikato scored twice in quick succession to narrow the gap to 10, he popped up once more with more individual brilliance to bag his third and put the issue beyond doubt.

But wasn’t just his tries that caught the eye. His defence was, as always, first class, along with his ability to read play from the back as well as timing passes designed to put others into gaps.

The versatile skipper relished a return to the 15 jersey after slotting into the midfield last week.

“I definitely love playing 15 but it’s good to have that extra string to your bow, playing at 12.”

David said that despite his side holding some handy advantages during the 80 minutes, he never felt they had the game won until the final whistle.

“You never feel that you have cracked them … it was tough playing into that breeze in the first half and we were glad to have that buffer at halftime … but then they came back, like Waikato always do.”

He admitted he would have opted to play with the wind if he had won the toss but suggested [losing the toss] may have worked in Tasman’s favour.

“We went out there with the mindset of carrying the ball … it was tough to exit and thankfully our defence was on today.”

Although Tasman lost four key players to the All Blacks camp this week their replacements stepped up in fine fashion, David quick to point out that they were by no means “new” players – Isaac Salmon, Alex Ainley, Sione Havili and Alex Nankivell bringing a wealth of experience to the mix.

“These guys have been round for a while. Obviously now is their opportunity … it is awesome for us to have guys in the All Blacks, but we treated it as a challenge this week for those guys to step into their shoes and I thought they did that today.”

They certainly did, all four bringing defensive steel to the party and executing their core roles professionally.

Another top performer was young lock Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta who followed up a man-of-the-match effort against Counties with another big shift today.

Jacob Norris, the Mako go-to-guy at lineout time, is becoming increasingly influential, while Andrew Makalio is relishing regular game time and the chance to run in the wide channels, while scoring regular tries on the back of unstoppable lineout drives.

Halfback Dwayne Polataivao kicked well into the breeze while centre Fetuli Paea continues to prove a handful, on both sides of the ball.

The Sparkies, as the Mako bench is known, are providing impact and continuity, with halfback Louie Chapman, flanker Braden Stewart and hooker Quentin MacDonald, who was extremely unlucky not to bag a “welcome back” try, to the fore.

Along with their five tries, it was the suffocating Mako defence that sealed the deal.

Defence coach Shane Christie was pleased with his charges.

“For a team to hold out Waikato, who have been an outstanding attacking team in the first two rounds, the boys should be really proud of themselves … the way we prepared and executed our defence, not for 80 minutes, but man that was a pretty good effort for the majority of the game,” he added.

Next Sunday it is off to Albany and a meeting with former Mako coach Kieran Keane’s North Harbour team. Kick off is 2.05pm.

It was a highly-successful weekend in Auckland for Marlborough tennis player Jade Otway. Photo: Supplied. 

Jade breaks through

Marlborough’s rising tennis talent, Jade Otway, picked up her first ITF [International Tennis Federation] singles win at the weekend.

The 17-year-old won both the singles and the doubles titles at the world junior J5 tournament staged in Auckland.

She went unbeaten during the event, which ran from September 20-26, teaming up with Abbey Mason in the doubles where they were top seeds.

Both the singles and doubles finals were played on Saturday. In the singles Jade beat sixth seed Elyse Tse 7-6, 6-1, then won the doubles title 6-0, 6-1 over Charlotte and Elyse Tse.

In the first round of the singles, for which she was seeded No 2, she downed Ruby Young 6-0, 6-2, then beat Juliane Gillespie 6-0, 6-0 in the next round and Renee Zhang 6-3, 6-2 in the semis.

Sixth seed Elyse Tse overcame singles top seed Vivian Yang 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi.

Jade is currently ranked 333rd worldwide.

Jono Masters scored Rangers’ second goal on Saturday. Photo: Supplied.

Rangers complete clean sweep, MFA awards announced

Rangers AFC took care of some unfinished business on Saturday, a 2-0 win over Richmond at Athletic Park completing a clean sweep of wins against every opponent in the Nelson division one football league.

In their two previous league meetings with Richmond, Rangers had come away with draws but this time they made no mistake.

A first half goal to Harrison Pine, his swerving free kick rocketing past the Richmond wall, had Rangers leading 1-0 at the break. Then Jono Masters bagged their second after 55 minutes, taking advantage of a searching cross from replacement Aaron Hayes.

Saturday’s result was not only a fitting end to Rangers’ victorious division one campaign, it was also a timely morale-booster heading into their final game of a superb season, the Nelson Knockout Cup final against Nelson FC next weekend.

Player/coach Tore Waechter, named Marlborough Football’s male player of the year in the season-ending awards, suggested Saturday’s effort was “one of the best games we have played all season”.

He had urged his players to move the ball quickly, utilising one-touch football rather than dribbling and said they responded superbly, creating a multitude of chances and dominating proceedings.

Midfielder Scott Belsham was one of Rangers’ best, winning all his challenges and holding the ball well, Carl Connor-McClean also impressed up front, along with Masters, Pablo Dominguez, the back three of Pine, Liam Sluiter and Jordan Columbus, plus the Delgado brothers, Julian and Martin, who provided plenty of energy.

The Cup final will be played at Guppy Park in Nelson, with a 3pm kickoff.

Tore predicted a tight tussle, similar to the previous games against FC this season. He said he expected to have a fully-fit squad to choose from as they go in search of a notable double.

Already Rangers AFC have been named the MFA team of the year.

BV Bullets player Tiana Williams was chosen as the women’s player of the year.

Her side was in action for the final time this season on Saturday, wrapping up a highly-satisfying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Nelson Suburbs at Saxton Fields.

Despite continued pressure on Suburbs’ defence by Leonie Marshall, Lauren Sloan, Lucy Martin and Tessa Hyland it was the home side who took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

Suburbs then went up 2-0 after 60 minutes before the visitors began their resurgence.

A blinder of a strike from Sloan whistled narrowly over the top before a perfect pass from Hyland set Marshall up for BV’s first.

Then a perfectly-weighted cross from Freya Thompson allowed Sloan to level the scores with a decisive header.

BV had a final opportunity to go ahead when Sloan was felled in the box, but her penalty attempt was saved.

Coach Ian Thomas said it was a nail-biting end to a fantastic season. “The team has shown incredible improvement from last year, and really gelled as a strong unit – which is all boding really well for next year – with the core of the team likely to return for the 2021 season.”

 

Marlborough Football awards  

Team competition

Men’s Div 1 Round 1: Bottle-O BV Masters. Men’s Div 2 Round 1:

Rangers Development. Men’s Div 1 Round 2: Central Wolves. Men’s Div 2 Round 2: Rangers Development. Men’s Div 3 Round 2:

Rangers Masters.

Men’s team (any division) highest pts overall: Rangers Development (27 points)

Women’s Social Comp winners: Picton

Knockout Cup awards

Knockout Cup Winner: Central Wolves; runner-up: Central Buccaneers. Knockout Shield: Rangers Masters. Knockout Bowl:   

Rangers Clubs of Marlborough. Knockout Consolation Plate: Picton. Women’s Zydenbos Shield: BV Chicks.

Individual awards

Golden Boot awards – Men’s Div 1: Stephen McCaa (Central Wolves) 13.  Men’s Div 2: Liam Clamp (Rangers Development) 13. Men’s Div 3: Keagan Mortimer (Rangers Masters) 14. Women’s Social Division: Maggie Lane (Picton).

Most Improved Overall Women’s Social Comp: Louisa Patterson (Picton)

Personality Awards – Women’s Social: Yuri Collins (Picton). Men’s Comp: Simon Fowke (Rangers Clubs of Marlborough)

Media Award: Pete Jones – The Marlborough App

Inspiration to Others: Stephen Plant (Call Care Spartans)

Referee of the Year: Morgan Breuer

Sportsperson of the year – Women’s Social: Donna Sio (Picton)

Sports Team of the Year – Referees Choice: Rangers AFC

Goalkeeper Award: Amon McGregor (Central Wolves)

Colt of the Year: Tana Connor-McClean (Rangers AFC)

Master of the Year: Andy Wheeler (Rangers Clubs of Marlborough)

Women’s Social League Player of the Year: Stacey Smith (BV Chicks)

Players of the Year – Senior Div 3: Murray Ward (Picton Crow Tavern).  Senior Div 2: Josh Whittall (Rangers Development). Senior Div 1: Nick Rayner (Central Wolves)

Women’s Player of the Year across all women’s divisions: Tiana Williams (Liquid Action BV Bullets)

Men’s Player of the Year across all men’s divisions: Tore Waechter (Rangers AFC).

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

Tokomaru too good for all comers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Netball winners decided

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most improved senior player was MGC defender Taryn Breen.

 

Finals results

Premier: Tokomaru 63 Pelorus 46

Grade one: MGC Fairweathers 25 Pelorus Farmlands 21

Grade two: Tokomaru Oxleys 23 SMOG Expol 20

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

Grade four: QCC Awhina 35 Pelorus Havelock Hotel 13

Grade five: SMOG Subway 22 Harlequins WK+ 14

Grade six: Legion 12 Pelorus Owen Marine 11

Grade social: Tokomaru Picton Motordome 31 Pelorus Fairweathers 28

 

Season prizes

Officiating, umpiring awards

Official of the year: Sonya Masters

Junior umpire of the Year: Tayla Fowke

Most improved umpire: Natasha Cook

Most promising umpire: Mandy O’Malley

Umpire of the Year: Michelle Stagg

Person contributing most to netball: Megan McKendry

 

Playing awards

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

Most improved senior attack: Taila Town

Most improved mid court: Millie Wensley

Most improved senior player overall: Taryn Breen

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

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

Most outstanding senior attack (merit Anna Gardiner) Haze Tepuia

MVP of the Year: Oriana Houra

Netballer of the Year: Haze Tepuia

 

Flanker Jacob Norris storms across the line for Tasman’s eighth try at Lansdowne Park on Friday night. Photo: Shuttersport.

All Blacks call-ups set to impact Mako men

The only cloud on the Tasman rugby horizon after they completed a perfect start to their 2020 Mitre 10 Cup premiership campaign at Lansdowne Park on Friday night is an All Black one.

The Makos 54-21 win over Northland means the defending champs have claimed maximum points from their first two matches. Their potent backline and imposing forwards have proved too powerful for both Counties Manukau and the Taniwha. However the Tasman ranks are about to be thinned with the All Blacks going into camp on Monday in preparation for their forthcoming international fixtures.

After that, the availability of Tasman’s men in black is up to Ian Foster and his fellow selectors.

This situation could involve up to seven Mako men. Definitely Tyrel Lomax, Quinten Strange, Shannon Frizell, Sevu Reece and Will Jordan, who have been named in the initial All Blacks squad, and possibly utility backs David Havili and Leicester Fainga’anuku as the three wise men look to enlarge their squad.

For the Mako management this will undoubtedly be accepted as the price of success. Develop players to the top level and they are bound to be noticed and in demand, that’s how it works. The question is, does Tasman have enough depth to maintain their momentum when the stars go away to play?

Co-head coach Andrew Goodman thinks so.

“There is going to be guys getting more opportunities now with more minutes, so it’s going to be exciting to see how they perform when they are given the opportunity to put their hand up.

“We will obviously welcome our All Black players back with open arms if we get that chance, but we are preparing as if they won’t be available [next weekend].”

There was no denying the All Black contingent’s impact on Friday evening’s game. Reece bagged three tries, Jordan’s silky running repeatedly sliced Northland open, although he kicked more than usual, Lomax was at the core of a formidable scrum and Frizell was simply superb.

However, they were certainly not the only players to shine.

Centre Fetuli Paea just keeps getting better, his fearless running and timing making him a real handful. Havili, Tasman’s man-for-all-positions, was influential in this 2020 debut, Mitch Hunt’s clever kicking and judicious passing set up a couple of tries while halfback Dwayne Polataivao fitted in nicely.

Up front, the forwards excelled at set piece time, providing clean line-out ball plus some clever variations and regularly bullying the Northland scrum. Andrew Makalio’s aggressive approach led the way, while flankers Norris and Hugh Renton were prominent both on attack and defence.

Goodman was generally happy with his side’s effort, despite conceding three tries.

“The start was good … the forwards set a great platform, carried well with good body height and got us go-forward ball which the backs were able to work well off.

“At this time of year we are still striving for that 80-minute performance. At the end of the first half we gave away five penalties in a row which allowed them to get some points before halftime, which we were disappointed with.

“However, the boys addressed that at halftime and came out with a really strong opening to the second half.

“Shannon [Frizell] was a standout … he carried hard all day and was amazing on both sides of the ball. Jacob [Norris] got us some good momentum and it was pleasing to see Braden Stewart and others come on and contribute at the end.”

Replacement halfback Louie Chapman and lock Cameron Suafoa made their debuts tonight, both putting in efforts Goodman was pleased with.

Expect a new-look Mako side to run out in their next game, against Waikato, on Saturday at 2.05pm in Nelson.

It is likely the Mooloo men will also be without some of their stars as the competition returns to its normal, All Blacks-free, appearance.

In some ways the “real” NPC begins next week, and Tasman couldn’t have wished for a better start.

United forward Jared Buckley controls possession on the goal line. Photo: Peter Jones.

United get up to win hockey decider

United are the 2020 Marlborough premier hockey champs after beating Arotea Kiwi in a shootout at College Park on Saturday.

Kiwi led 1-0 at halftime, however United levelled before the end of regulation play, leading to the shootout, which United won 3-0.

The battle for third and fourth placings in premier grade was won by Beawai, who defeated Go Girls 3-2 in another tight affair.

Division two was won by the MBC First XI, who downed Beawai Masters 5-3, while Beawai scored a 3-1 win over MGC First XI to come third.

In division three it was the MBC 2nd XI who too the honours, beating Arotea Kiwi 2-1 in the decider. Emcee finished third after downing MGC 2nd XI 2-1.

At the conclusion of play the season’s awards were handed out, Jo Jones being named women’s player of the year and John McKinnon the top men’s player.

 

2020 awards

Best Dressed/sportsmanship: Arotea Kiwi

Most Improved team: Emcee

Winner of division three: MBC 2nd XI

Winner of division two: MBC 1st XI

Winner of premier competition: United

Combined Club Points: Beawai/Kiwi: Arotea Kiwi

Winner of division two final: MBC 1st XI

Winner of premier final: United

 

Individual awards

MVP Emcee – Jake Brydon; MVP Arotea Kiwi – Becky Melhopt; MVP MGC 2nd XI – Eleanor O’Connell; MVP MBC 2nd XI – Charlie Struthers.

Most improved Junior Umpire: Emma Blom

Most improved Senior Umpire: Jo Campbell

Umpire attaining highest ranking, grading or appointment: Di Morrisey

Most Improved Women’s Player: Veronica Hardman

Most Improved Men’s Player: James Young

Outstanding Contribution to Hockey: Grant McMillan

Contribution to Hockey Administration: Nigel Fraser

Women’s Player of the Year: Jo Jones

Men’s Player of the Year: John McKinnon

The Rangers AFC squad. Photo: Supplied.

Rangers wrap up division one title

Rangers AFC are the Nelson division one football champions after beating Nelson College 3-0 in Nelson on Saturday.

The Blenheim side, who have dominated the competition since the outset, wrapped up the league title with a game remaining.

Manager Wolfie Waechter said Rangers were wary of the student side, especially after their recent goal-scoring efforts.

However he said “everyone was up for it today, although they were a little bit nervous after last week’s effort”.

He was referring to their shock loss to Tahuna which dented their unbeaten record this season.

However, they made no mistake on Saturday.

After eight minutes they were on the board, courtesy of an Adam Rose goal from close range. Then he repeated the dose in the 35th minute, slotting the ball home after Carl Connor-McClean had laid it off.

Leading 2-0 at the break Rangers looked well in control, but College had other ideas, creating a couple of clear scoring opportunities, one saved superbly by keeper Dan Diamond.

Jono Masters entered the fray in the 70th minute and wasted no time getting among the action, scoring Rangers’ third to put the match to bed.

Waechter said the frequent away trips, while tiring at times, had helped mould the side into a tight unit.

“I expected it to be a highly-contested season, and it was … there were some quality sides involved and all very competitive. It was a really close competition and that is what you want.

“I always thought we would be in the running for the title because we have a very balanced squad, some experienced players such as Jordy [Columbus] and [player/coach] Tore [Waechter] who guide and organise on the field, plus some talented new ones in the team.

“We also had quality coaching and they all worked hard throughout.

“Overall they were just a good bunch of mates together.”

He said the efforts of the back line [Liam Sluiter, Harrison Pine and Columbus], in conjunction with defensive midfielders Waechter and Scott Belsham was a major factor in their success.

Carl Connor-McClean was always a menace up front and scored some important goals while the experience of Julian and Martin Delgado, plus Belsham, regularly shone through.

Next week Rangers play their final league game, at Athletic Park Blenheim against Richmond then, a week later, they meet FC Nelson in the Price Charity Cup final, this time in Nelson with the league/cup double on the line.

Meanwhile, the Blenheim Valley Bullets, who play in the Nelson division one women’s league, put up a gutsy effort with only 10 players before losing 4-3 to FC Nelson at Athletic Park on Saturday.

FC went two-up early on before Lucy Martin made it 2-1 after 15 minutes. She repeated the dose just before the halftime break to level the scores after a period of sustained pressure from the home side.

FC scored first after oranges, but the home side levelled again through Riley Preece with 10 minutes to play.

However, a goal on the break to Nelson’s Zoe King ultimately decided the issue, despite BV throwing everything at it in the final stages.

Coach Ian Thomas said he was proud of his charges.

“The fact that we came so close to securing a draw with only 10 players speaks volumes.

“It is hard to single out individual players, however Tessa Hyland made a huge contribution in midfield and Hannah Martin was our player of day for her tireless effort in defence.”

Midfielder Tiana Williams plays for the BV Bullets side in the Nelson division one league. Photo: Peter Jones.

Tiana returns to game she loves

A long-standing love of football has lured Tiana Williams back onto the playing fields of Marlborough and Nelson this year.

The 20-year-old midfielder has been a stand-out for the Blenheim Valley Bullets side, who contest the Nelson division one women’s competition.

Given her impressive footballing CV, that comes as no surprise.

In 2014, the Marlborough Girls’ College student gained national recognition as part of the New Zealand under-16 side which toured Australia.

Two years later, the 16-year-old was named as the inaugural captain of the Tasman United women’s team which contested the Mainland Premier League, an appointment that recognised her playing maturity despite her tender years.

A demanding travel schedule for Nelson-based training prompted a move to Waimea College for the 2017 season, when Tiana again represented Tasman United.

Along the way she caught the eye of the selectors for the Canterbury United Pride team, who competed in the national Women’s League, training with a side which included several national reps.

As she moved through the ranks one goal remained firmly in Tiana’s sights, a place in the New Zealand under-18 team.

But when the side was announced, her name was missing.

“I trialled for [the NZ side], didn’t make it and so I thought I would move home and find a job and I’ve been here ever since.”

Deeply disappointed to be overlooked, Tiana decided to take a break from the sport she had played “for as long as I can remember”.

She took a job with a company called C3, loading log ships at Shakespeare Bay, and has been there for the past few years, her football boots tucked away in the cupboard until earlier this year when an opportunity to play for the Bullets arose.

“I enjoy my job, but I had been missing playing the game I love,” said Tiana, “and it’s also great to be playing without pressure.

“It is still a competitive game, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the top level where everyone is watching what you are doing all the time.”

“I have really enjoyed this year, they are a great bunch of girls, some a lot younger than me, which makes a change.”

Now she is back and relishing the opportunity to lace up her boots each weekend, Tiana has not ruled out another shot at higher honours. She hopes the Tasman United women’s side will be resurrected, offering a chance to take her silky skills to another level again.

“If they had a Tasman team this year, I would have looked to play in it,” she suggested.

Asked how her body had handled a return to regular football, Tiana was pleasantly surprised. “It has been fine … I am still a bit unfit, but I have kept active, so it wasn’t too hard.”

She has also found her skills have remained. “I think that is something you carry with you … your touch is always there I reckon.”

Given her form this season, including an eight-goal haul in a recent match, few would argue with that.

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

Toko, Pelorus set up final rematch

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

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

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

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

However the second quarter turned the match on its head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, Pelorus will definitely have other ideas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semifinal scores:

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

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

Final (Saturday September 19): Tokomaru v Pelorus

Monu Moli leads out the MBC First XV. Photo: Supplied.

Big game celebrated in style

The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV celebrated their skipper’s milestone match in style on Saturday, disposing of Mid Canterbury Combined 60-12 on the college front field.

Prop Monu Moli played his 50th game for the MBC Falcons, turning in another inspirational performance, and was afterwards presented with a special commemorative cap by his brother, former MBC skipper and All Blacks prop Atu Moli.

MBC head coach Matt MacDougall said, “the game couldn’t have gone any better, Monu played the full 70 minutes and was outstanding”.

Monu’s team mates also came to the party, running in 10 tries and scoring regularly throughout.

Two youngsters caught the coach’s eye. Year 10 student Hugh Robinson made his first start at first five and made a good impression, showing “natural calmness and good distribution skills”.

Also impressing was fullback Cooper Roberts, another under-15 player. “He was a constant menace coming into the line and created several scoring opportunities with his offloading skills.”

Flanker William MacKenzie has had a fine season and turned in another blinder yesterday, creating turnovers and making tackle after tackle.

The team’s victory in the final round robin match was not enough to earn them a home semi final in next week’s Bowl play-offs. Instead they must travel to Nelson for a repeat tussle with Waimea Combined, a team they lost to 34-21 earlier in the season, a “heartbreaking” defeat that still rankles with coach MacDougall.

“Despite the fact we are away from home I’m rapt to get another chance to put the record straight against Waimea,” he said.

The other bowl semifinal sees Timaru BHS host Roncalli.

Although they have ended up in the third echelon of teams after round robin play, MBC have been on the wrong end of some narrow scorelines and have generally been highly-competitive against allcomers, with MacDougall suggesting “it’s good to know we can foot it with the top four sides”.

Scores: Marlborough Boys’ College 60 (Nase Taufa, Viliami Napa’a, Cameron Collins, Jake Pacey, Cooper Roberts, Dom Freeth, Kyren Taumoefolau, Te Ariki Peipi, Tom Hobson 2 tries, Hugh Robinson 3 con, Kyren Taumoefolau 2 con) Mid Canterbury Combined 12. HT: 26-7.

Other results: Nelson 38 St Andrew’s 24; St Bede’s 31 Timaru 24; Christchurch 38 Roncalli 0; Waimea 27 St Thomas 24; Christ’s 15 Shirley 10; Rangiora 70 Lincoln 7.

Semifinals. Cup – Christchurch v Rangiora; St Andrew’s v St Bede’s. Plate – Christ’s v St Thomas; Nelson v Shirley. Bowl – Timaru v Roncalli; MBC v Waimea.