Celtic coach Dayle Clarkson wasn’t surprised her side toppled defending champions Harcourts in the grand final of Netball Wairarapa’s premier one competition at the Colombo road courts in Masterton on Saturday, but the way they did it wasn’t exactly what they planned.
After an evenly-contested first two quarters which saw Harcourts lead by just the one goal, 18-17, at halftime even Clarkson had almost lost any hope of victory when Celtic’s effort faltered badly in a third quarter which ended with them by trailing by six goals, 23 to 29.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what happened other than we seemed to go sleep and against a team like Harcourts that is usually end of story,” Clarkson said.
“You never say never but to come up back from six goals down in 15 minutes was a huge ask.”.
What the situation meant for Celtic was that for them to have any possible chance of victory, and securing their first premier one title since 2009 in the process, they had to dominate the opening exchanges of that fourth quarter and that they did, scoring the first four goals to reduce Harcourts’ lead to two.
Suddenly it was anybody’s game and while Harcourts did regain the ascendancy for a brief period it was Celtic who came with a rush over the closing stages, netting what was to be their 38th and winning goal right on fulltime.
“I wasn’t really nervous, I always thought that once we were back in the fight we could pull it off,” Clarkson said.
“It was just a matter of keeping our composure and trusting each other, and it worked. Leaving it so late wasn’t in the plan but we’ll take it.”
Co-captains of the successful Celtic squad were Ronnie Hemara and Kerewai Tatana and with them were Perri Williams, Bailey Pederson, Georgia Oliver, Katie Smith, Anna Garnett, Toni Hollow, Shaylin Hollow and Grace Southey.
Just how many of them will be back for next season is an unknown for Clarkson although she is hopeful that most of them will be back on deck to defend their title.
“It’s taken us a while to win it so it would be nice to think we could double up,” she said.