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Defending champions push for top eight spot

The defending champion Hamilton City face a must-win match against Invercargill on day two of the Netball NZ U19 Champs if they are to defend their national crown.

The Pourewa Ruri-Clarke captained side made a winning start to their title defence at ASB Baypark Arena in Tauranga on Monday with thrilling derby match against Eastern Waikato.

Both teams were locked at 10-10 at quarter time and again 18-18 at the main break. It was Hamilton City which made the first move to go into the deciding spell with a two-goal advantage.

They looked to have the match in control with a four-goal lead before Eastern Waikato came back strongly in the dying minutes to pull within two – the defending champions eventually winning 27-25.

But Hamilton City are left needing victory over Invercargill in their final pool game to progress after going down 30-41 to Auckland.

Teams play their last championship pool match on Tuesday morning which will determine the tournament’s top eight and bottom eight.

From there post-pool play will find the top two teams who meet in the national championship final on Thursday afternoon.

Auckland look favourites to go through unbeaten in Pool A after netting a big win over Invercargill and backing it up with the victory over Hamilton City. They now take on Eastern Waikato which has suffered two narrow losses.

Meanwhile, Wellington has made a strong start in Pool C and should go through to the top eight after convincing wins over both Howick Pakuranga (44-30) and Christchurch (40-28) while North Harbour are well placed in Pool D.

The Julie Kelman-Poto coached North Harbour side netted 40 or more goals in both of their outings on Monday for comfortable wins and play Hutt Valley in their final pool game.

Tuesday’s match-up between Christchurch and Howick Pakuranga will decide which of the two teams reach the top eight from Pool C while Whangarei and Waitakere look to be playing out for the second seeding in Pool D.

There were some variable results recorded in Pool B where last years’ runners-up Manawatu looking to emerge as the top ranked team after netting two wins on the opening day.

They meet Selwyn in their final pool game while Dunedin and Harbourside will go head-to-head to see which side joins Manawatu in the top half of the draw.

Both teams netted convincing wins over Selwyn but Dunedin, which boasts four Beko Netball League players in its ranks, fared better in its loss to Manawatu on Monday afternoon.