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Central are team to beat in Beko Netball League

Netball Central face one of their biggest challenges as they aim to hold top spot on the Beko Netball League points table.


The Natalie Milicich-coached side remain unbeaten after five rounds but head to the Deep South to play Netball South at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Saturday.

In a repeat of last year’s inaugural grand final it is Central this time which sits in the box seat, with maximum points so far, but they face a defending champion South side which is on the improve.

The hosts lost their opening two Beko Netball League matches but have since beaten Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) and the High Wire Trust Northern Comets.

Shooter Aliyah Dunn and Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel goal attack Jamie Hume have been forming a strong combination in the circle in recent outings and will need to be at their best against a classy Central defensive unit.

Meanwhile, Hellers Netball Mainland has had just one loss to sit second at the mid-way point of the season, but will be aware of their inconsistencies in a narrow victory last week.

They travel to the Auckland Netball Centre on Saturday to play the fourth-placed Northern Marvels.

Mainland shooter Ellie Bird has been a big target for opponents and continues to grow with each outing while being well serviced by wing Tiana Placid and Chloe Williamson.

Goal attack Cait Dowden is also key up front and said her side would be aiming on “maintaining intensity” against the Northern Marvels in Round 6, having let a commanding lead slip against WBOP the previous week.

WBOP has been the movers of the league in recent rounds with their first victory in Round 4 and coming within two goals of upsetting Mainland last week.

They head to Auckland to play the bottom-placed Comets at the High Wire Gymnasium. Both teams have just one win each but the visitors sit higher on the ladder with two bonus points.

A slow start cost WBOP maximum points against Mainland but they will have taken plenty of positives from the game including the second-half performances of defender Emily Patterson and shooter Te Awa Gerrard-Nicholas.

The Beko Netball League Grand Final will be played at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on June 18, where the top two-ranked teams will meet, and will be televised live on SKY Sport NZ.