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Goals aplenty in second round

While most sports had an eye on the weather at the weekend, Wairarapa’s senior netballers were fully focused on the game at hand as they took to the court under cover at the netball headquarters in Colombo Road.

Celtic 53

Carterton Maroon 37

Round two on Friday night provided plenty of goals and an opportunity for coaches to get some of their younger players into the fray. First up, Celtic backed up from a nailbiting 41-40 win over Harcourts to get the better of a fast-starting Jo Kelly and Co Carterton Maroon.

Celtic took a while to find their feet but was clicking well by the fourth quarter. In a bold strategy to start the season, Celtic has been using the entire squad in an effort to get new players familiar with established players as quickly as possible. They used different combinations in all four quarters on Friday night, including two different shooter pairings in each period.

Coach Ellisha Clarkson is cautiously optimistic that the broad approach will pay dividends.

“We are aiming to develop and improve our depth right across the court, so we are mixing it up as much as possible. We are not showing our hand just yet, and our opposition will not know who will be on court next, which might pose a few problems for them.

“To be honest, it’s more about playing well; it’s not just about the final score.”

Clarkson was impressed with how the Celtic defenders improved through the match, particularly in the way they linked with the midcourt.

Harcourts 65

St Matthews College 27

Coach Sarah Watson has been eagerly waiting for the chance to give some of her new Harcourts players a chance to make their senior A debut. That moment arrived on Friday night, and the rookies didn’t disappoint.

“We took a while to settle, but we clicked much better in the second half.

“It was rewarding to get the whole squad on court, particularly the younger ones. Great to see them get a feel for what it is like at the top level.”

Watson was encouraged by the way the whole team improved through the match but mentioned Mairangi Karatiana for her work in the circle, and wing attack Brittany Wildman for her linking between the thirds.

Wairarapa College 60

Carerton Rebels 24

Last year’s champions, Waicol, backed up a solid first-round win over Tuhirangi with a comprehensive victory over newcomers Jo Kelly and Co Carterton Rebels.

As is the cyclical nature of school teams, there are new players every year, and coach Keely Riwai-Couch is not wasting time getting them on court and into the Waicol structures.

“We want to build them into the squad and support their development through the season. Getting to the top-four is a priority, of course, but so is getting those new players on court and seeing where they first in best.”

While Waicol had a particularly productive day at the attacking end of the court, Riwai-Couch was most impressed with a strong defensive effort led by Ella Forster, who collected a bagful of intercepts.

Tuhirangi White 38

Opaki Vixens 37

A nailbiting final quarter had spectators on the edge of their seats as Opaki came from a 10-goal deficit to almost
snatch an unlikely victory.

Tuhirangi made some personnel changes for the last period and had to regroup quickly as a fast-finishing Opaki steadily reduced the margin. Tuhirangi coach Kim Whiteman was understandably relieved her charges held on for the points.

“Some of our team played their first-ever one-hour game last week, so there is plenty of learning ahead.

“Thankfully, our ball retention stabilised when it really mattered, and we managed to hold our nerve under real pressure.”

For Tuhirangi, Jessie Robinson was a steadying influence in defence, and Sohpie Atkinson was in sharp form in the shooting circle.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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