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Mainland and Central net first round wins

Netball Mainland held their composure to open their Beko Netball League campaign with a win over the defending champions.

They beat Netball South 44-36 at the Lincoln Events Centre in Canterbury while Netball Central had a 66-55 victory over the new High Wire Trust Northern Comets side at the High Wire Gymnasium in Auckland in the other Round 1 match.

Little separated Mainland and the defending champion South side with five goals, the biggest difference for much of the match.

New Mainland coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek was pleased most with the “calmness” her side showed in an intense battle.

“The way they kept together as a team and stuck at their task,” she said. “It was quite a physical game but we managed to rise above it. As a starting point it’s really good.”

Mainland trailed by four goals before a change in defence – where Kayla Williams in particular sparked some urgency on the wing – saw the hosts come within one goal by halftime.

Delaney-Hoshek opted for more height in the defensive circle with Olivia Coughlan teaming up with Kelera Nawai.

Williams picked up four intercepts in the second quarter as South struggled to hold onto possession in their attacking third.

“Kayla and Chloe (Williamson) put a lot of pressure on out the front of the circle and we actually picked up a lot of ball,” Delaney-Hoshek said. “She just gives a hundred every time and plays with a lot of passion.”

Defence however was an area Mainland would continue to look at in the early rounds of the Beko Netball League.

“We’ve still got work to do on defence and our combinations,” she said. “Because some of the girls have been with the (Mainland) Tactix we haven’t seen them so it’s certainly an area to work on.”

South led 21-20 at the main break but Mainland lifted in intensity in the third spell and, with shooters Cait Dowden and Ellie Bird growing in confidence, held a 34-29 advantage with one quarter to play.

Mainland were forced to weather a resurgent South side early in the deciding spell when they closed the gap to one goal before the home side netted four straight goals to give them a match-winning buffer.

Meanwhile, Central beat league newcomers Comets 66-55 in the other opening round match in Auckland.

The scores were locked at 27-27 at half-time but eight unanswered goals mid-way through the third spell put Central in command.

Defenders Renee Savai’inaea and Rhiarna Ferris picked up five intercepts and eight deflections between them through the match while mid-courter Kimiora Poi also dominated with three intercepts.