Hellers Mainland rise to the challenge
Hellers Mainland are looking forward to getting back on court and putting their lessons learned over a tough few weeks into action in the latest round of the Beko Netball League.
They are at home to the Northern Marvels at Trafalgar Centre in Nelson on Sunday, while in other league matches the table-topping Central Manawa head to Papakura to play the Northern Comets, and the Southern Blast host the Waikato-BOP in Dunedin.
It has been two weeks since Mainland have been on court after their Round 3 match against the Northern Comets was cancelled due to the devasting incident in Christchurch last week.
The points were shared between the two teams, who prop up the bottom of the Beko Netball League table, and Mainland coach Ronelle van Dongen said her side was looking forward to Sunday’s match with the Marvels.
“We’ve wanted to give the girls as much time as possible – given them some time and space,” she said. “We are really feeling for Christchurch.”
It has been challenging start to their campaign with early games last year’s Grand Finalists including a five-goal loss to Waikato-BOP and an “eye-opener” 25-goal defeat to the defending champion Central side.
Van Dongen said they had taken plenty of learnings from the loss to Central and had trained well in the build-up to the game against the Comets.
“We’re now looking at taking that into the game against the Marvels,” she said.
Mainland went into the 2019 season with a number of familiar faces up front, including midcourters Nicola Mackle, Chloe Williamson, Lily Fletcher and shooters Jess Prosser, Grace Namana and Tiana Placid.
But their defensive end has been decimated with the loss of Sophia Fenwick and Lily Marshall who have both made the step up to the ANZ Premiership for The Good Oil Tactix.
Youngsters Georgia Woollett and Olivia Burnham have been making the most of their opportunities in their first season of the Beko Netball League, but it has forced van Dongen to look further up court for a steadying influence.
Placid, who has made her mark for Mainland in the midcourt and shooting circle, has reclaimed a spot in the defensive circle.
“She started her (netball) life as a defender and just brings some experience into that end,” van Dongen said. “She’s also always full of encouragement for those around her.”
She wanted to see her players start to “be strong for each other” and build on momentum and the combinations they were developing.
“When we get that real team unit, the rest of it will come,” she said.
The Beko Netball League round robin concludes on May 12 with the top two teams to play in the Grand Final in Christchurch on May 19.
2019 Hellers Mainland: Nicola Mackle (captain), Tiuana-Marie Aiono, Kelsey Ashworth, Olivia Burnham, Lily Fletcher, Hannah Glen, Grace Namana, Anteisha O’Connell, Tiana Placid, Jess Prosser, Courtney Quinn, Manaia Rapana-Feather, Natasha Ryan, Claudine Wallace, Chloe Williamson, Georgia Woollett.
Beko Netball League points: Central Manawa 9, Southern Blast 8, Waikato-BOP 8, Northern Marvels 5, Hellers Mainland 3, Northern Comets 3.