Defending champions make move in Beko Netball League
Central made certain history would not be repeated when they netted a key win over Waikato-BOP to shake up the Beko Netball League points table again.
They found themselves in a similar position to when the teams met back in Round 2 when they led by five goals heading into the deciding quarter at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Sunday, but this time held their nerve to push on for a 51-42 victory.
The defending champions now sit at the top of the ladder after six rounds while Heller’s Mainland have slotted back into second spot having comfortably beaten the Northern Comets 56-37 in Lincoln. South netted their first win of the season, with a 58-51 victory over the Northern Marvels in Queenstown.
But it was the top-of-the-table clash between Central and Waikato-BOP which had plenty riding on it with both teams coming off convincing wins the week before.
Four goals was the difference the last time they met and only a handful of goals separated them for much of the match in Wellington.
Captain Elle Temu said the difference this time round was Central’s ability to “keep their foot on the pedal” to grab their fourth win of the season.
She also paid tribute to the injection of ANZ Premiership players Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Renee Savai’inaea who brought fresh legs in a pivotal third quarter.
“They’re obviously great players and having them in there with us gives extra intensity and we really lift when they’re on,” she said.
“We really wanted this win – it was a team effort today. When there was a loose ball everyone was going for it, and we looked after our own possession.”
But she said Central would need to address their starts before hosting the Comets next week, after trailing Waikato-BOP by three goals at the first break.
“We’ve had a few slow starts and that’s been for the past few games so we have to see what’s happening there.”
Mid-courter Maddy Gordon impressed for Central at both wing defence and centre, with her read of play, drive through the court and hunger for the ball and was named most valuable player.
Her performance through the middle sparked Central in the second quarter after they found themselves adrift early on.
In what was a messy start to the spell, Central was the first to settle and netted three quick goals to level the scores.
Their ability to share the shooting load between both Jermaine Howard-Vallance and Saviour Tui made it an easy feed for their mid-court as the hosts locked 24-24 with Waikato-BOP at the main break.
Coach Pelesa Semu opted for a new-look Central mid-court at half-time with ANZ Premiership players Reuelu-Buchanan and Savai’inaea coming onto the wings and Gordon, who was influential at wing defence in the first half, moving to centre.
Central sunk the first three goals of the spell to open an advantage they held on to for the remainder of the game.
The defence unit of Elle Temu and Paris Lokotui were relentless in their work upsetting the normally accurate Waikato-BOP shooters who dipped to 61 per cent for the match.
Waikato-BOP coach Mary-Jane Araroa made a raft of changes for the deciding spell – her team trailing 32-37 – with Lisa Mather on to centre, Georgia Tong returning to the defence but on the wing and McPhee moving out to goal attack. Teenager Khiarna Williams came on at goal shooter.
The 15-year-old made an immediate impact scoring three quick goals as Waikato-BOP pushed hard to slash the deficit.
But unlike their meeting in Round 2, when they gave up a five-goal lead in the fourth quarter, Central maintained their composure for the victory.
Waikato-BOP 51 (Kelsey McPhee 28/40, Harley Smith 7/18, Khiarna Williams7/11) lost to Central (Jermaine Howard-Vallance 27/39, Saviour Tui 24/29). Quarter scores: 13-10, 24-24, 32-37, 42-51.
Heller’s Mainland 56 (Jess Prosser 25/33, Gemma Hazeldine 15/22, Grace Namana 16/20) beat Northern Comets 37 (Ivana Rowland 9/13, Filda Vui 27/33, Eseta Autagavaia 1/4). Quarter scores: 18-7, 30-16, 41-29, 56-37.
South 58 (Isabella Masini 23/25, Georgia Heffernan 29/35, Katherine Morris 6/12) beat Northern Marvels 51 (Tera-Maria Amani 37/39, Meretini Fuimaono 12/14, Jamie Hume 2/5). Quarter scores: 17-10, 29-21, 44-36, 58-51.