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Three-year plan bears fruit for Wairarapa College

Champions all — the Wairarapa College squad who won the Lower North Island B grade title. From left: Brittany Wildman, Bonnie Taia, Camryn Potangaroa, Lizzie Bysouth, Paris Potangaroa, Briar Begg, Ashlee Edmonds, Georgia Cullen, Molly Cardno, Zara Fletcher and Millie Moser. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

 

NETBALL

GARY CAFFELL

It was mission accomplished and more for Wairarapa College when they won the B grade title at the Lower North Island secondary schoolgirls tournament played in Hawke’s Bay last week.

Going into the 2017 season, Wairarapa College set themselves three goals — making the top four of the Wairarapa premier one inter-club and Wellington secondary schools girls competitions and the Lower North Island tourney.

And while they fell just one place short of achieving the first and second of those objectives, those competitions had toughened them up to go significantly better in the third.

“The Lower North Island was always the big target and the preparation was obviously right for that one,” Waiararapa College coach Treen Edmonds said.

Games there were played over four quarters each of 10 minutes and Edmonds believes that having played a full season of Wairarapa premier one games where games are divided into four quarters of 15 minutes gave her side an important edge, as did regularly confronting adult opposition.

“It made us a lot harder physically and mentally, and that was the difference between us and most of the other sides,” Edmonds said.

“There were many games where the first half was pretty even but we were able to draw away in the last two quarters because of the preparation we had.”

There is no rest for the weary at the Lower North Island tourneys, Wairarapa College faced a tough schedule of eight matches and went into them knowing that while one loss early on wouldn’t necessarily bring their top four aspirations to an abrupt halt, any more than that would.

As it happened, however, they maintained a clean sheet all the way through, beating Chilton St James 38-21, Cornerstone School 41-16, Porirua College 37-23, Waiopehu College 47-24, Awatapu 50-20, Wanganui City College 46-24, Central Hawke’s Bay College 36-30 and, in the grand final, Whanganui Girls College 35-29.

The final was a tense affair with the wet conditions making the ball slippery and therefore placing huge emphasis on passing and handling skills.

After an even first two quarters, Wairarapa College lifted the ante in the third and led by nine goals at one stage.

Whanganui Girls did make a minor comeback in the fourth but Wairarapa College were always in control and their six-goal winning margin fairly reflected the merits of the two sides

“The third quarter was crucial, we knew we had to put the foot down to take the pressure off the last quarter and the girls did a great job of doing just that. It was still a bit nerve-wracking to watch but it really was quite comfortable in the end,” Edmonds said.

Individually, all members of the Wairarapa College squad played a full part in their success with the highlight being the naming of centre Brittany Wildman, co-captain with Ashlee Edmonds, in the B grade tournament team.

Others in the victorious side were Briar Begg, Georgia Cullen, Zara Fletcher, Camryn Potangaroa, Paris Potangaroa, Miller Moser, Bonnie Taia, Lizzie Bysouth and Molly Cardno.

With their B grade title win came promotion to the A grade section of next year’s LNI tournament.

Edmonds freely concedes that will be a tough ask for a squad who will lose five of their current players at the end of this school year but she is encouraged by the wealth of talent coming through in the Year 9 and 10 age groups.

“This year was the last in an initial three-year plan to build the strength of netball at our college and now that has ended so well, we can now get into another three-year plan which aims at having us among the top four A grade sides at the Lower North Islands. It will take a lot of hard work but we are up for it.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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