Home turf significance in tight Beko Netball League
The importance of performing at home is not lost on Central captain Elle Temu with four teams congested at the top of the Beko Netball League.
Just three points separate leaders Waikato-BOP, Central, Northern Comets and Heller’s Mainland at the mid-way mark of the season.
And Temu’s side – in joint second spot – have an opportunity to climb to the top when they take on the table-topping Waikato-BOP on Sunday.
The last time they met was in Hamilton in Round 2 when the hosts came from five goals down in the fourth quarter to beat Central 60-56.
Now Central is at home, at TSB Arena in Wellington, and Temu said it would be important to make the most of their opportunities on their home court.
“We’ve got four home games which is something we’ve talked about,” she said. “Travel can play its part in this competition so we know that we have to make the most of being at home and getting those points on the board.”
Shutting down influential shooter Kelsey McPhee – who has put up over 50 attempts in all but one of her outings – is an area of particular interest to Temu who is a circle defender.
“They’ve got very accurate shooters, fast middies and defenders who like to hunt,” Temu said. “They’re shooters have been performing well but our attack has certainly stepped up and our shooters have been great to watch.”
The contest will be just as intriguing at the other end of the court where Central’s shooters, Jermaine Howard-Vallance and in-form goal attack Saviour Tui, impressed in Round 5 but now take on defenders Jenna O’Sullivan and Georgia Tong who last week picked up five intercepts and eight deflections between them.
Central made a sluggish start to the season, losing their opening two games, but Temu has seen their hard work on the training court pay off with three straight wins.
“We’ve definitely got better every week and on a bit of a steady climb up,” she said. “I think that’s just the time together we’ve had and seeing those connections grow. It’s about building that trust with each other, getting a strong start and pushing on when it’s tight.
“The competition is so close right now which is really exciting.”
Meanwhile, Mainland will aim to bounce back from the disappointment of a 16-goal loss to Waikato-BOP last week when they host the Northern Comets in Lincoln on Sunday. South is also at home in Queenstown to the Northern Marvels with just the one point separating the two teams on the ladder.
The top two teams after 10 rounds will go through to the Beko Netball League final on July 29, at the new Pulman Arena in Auckland.