Beko Grand Finalists end regular season in control
A break-out third quarter sent Waikato-BOP into the Beko Netball League Grand Final on the back of a convincing victory.
The 70-44 win over the Northern Marvels on Sunday, at the specially named Casey Kopua Arena in Hamilton, was the last workout for Waikato-BOP ahead of next week’s title decider in Christchurch against Central Manawa.
Waikato-BOP captain Ali Wilshier said she was pleased with the intensity they brought to the second half, but would they were still searching for a 60-minute performance ahead of the final.
“I think we finished really well but it was a bit of a slow start,” she said.
“The second half we really put the nail in the coffin.”
Wilshier said they had plenty to work on heading into the final but was keeping her cards close when it came to what they would need to address.
“They’re all secrets,” she said with a laugh.
Marvels captain Tayla Foster said the third quarter is what let them down having been in the match for the first half.
“To be honest I don’t really know what happened,” she said.
“That happens for us a lot after half time and our third quarters in the past haven’t been the greatest.”
The match marked the end to the Marvels 2019 campaign, a season which had been hampered by a number of personnel changes.
“In total we’ve lost about six people through the season so we’ve kind of been rebuilding the whole time so that’s been hard,” she said.
The Marvels looked to be well in the match during the first half however, trailing by five at the first break and four at halftime.
Waikato-BOP links up front were tested with the inclusion of ANZ Premiership attacker Sydney Fraser in the mix and a number of breakdowns allowed the Marvels to stay in touch.
A couple of deflections from goal keep Nanise Waqaira helped close the gap to just two goals with five minutes left in the half.
The Marvels were down 28-31 heading into the third spell but from there it was all Waikato-BOP as the hosts went on a remarkable goal-scoring spree to take charge in front of a home crowd.
There were injury concerns for both teams early in the third quarter with the Marvels main scorer Maine-Crystal Maro going down with an ankle injury and Fraser leaving the court after landing awkwardly.
Schoolgirl Danielle Binks replaced Maro in the shooting circle while Braxton Te Riini took the wing attack bib for Waikato-BOP.
Both sides took time to adjust during a messy passage of play but it was Waikato-BOP which consolidated their connections first to spark an impressive run of 11 goals.
Waikato-BOP goal shoot Khiarna Williams was a strong target for the hosts as she put up an impressive 55 shots at goal with a 93 per cent accuracy to earn her the MVP award.
Maro, who also impressed with her accuracy, returned for the fourth quarter but by then the deficit was too much for the Marvels to overcome as Waikato-BOP dominated the final 15 minutes as well.
Meanwhile, Central Manawa also posted a big win heading into the Grand Final, beating the Southern Blast 75-39 in the other Beko Netball League played.
Waikato-BOP 70 (Khiarna Williams 51/55, Eden Anderson 5/7, Asher Grapes 14/20) beat Northern Marvels 44 (Maine-Crystal Maro 18/19, Filda Vui 20/24, Danielle Binks 6/6). Quarter scores: 16-11, 31-27, 50-36, 70-44.