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Manawatu march into top eight play-offs

In a salute to the smaller Centres, Manawatu have created waves by finishing top of their pool to progress to the top eight play-offs after day two of the Netball NZ U19 championships in Wellington.

In a tough pool, the unheralded Manawatu went through unbeaten, a draw with Auckland enhancing their chances while Hamilton City secured the second Pool B spot in moving forward to tomorrow’s quarter and semi-finals.

After losing to Hamilton City, heavyweights Auckland have missed out on a shot at the title and will now compete in the play-offs for ninth to 16th place.

Others to move forward to the top eight after the completion of pool play were defending champions Wellington who remain unbeaten, Invercargill, Christchurch, Dunedin, Waitakere, also with a blemish-free record, and North Harbour.

Finishing 14th in the corresponding tournament last year, Manawatu are now assured of a top-eight finish this year, coach John Atkins delighted to compete on equal terms with Auckland while getting one over Hamilton in the closing five minutes of their clash.

``At any age-grade tournament things can be cyclical. You have your ups and downs, particularly in the provinces where you don’t have the same depth as the cities but we always try to give it our best shot,’’ the understated Manawatu coach said.

``This Manawatu team has been giving it 100 percent and that’s all anyone can ask.’’

Two of the Manawatu team played as fill-ins for Central’s Beko Netball League team on one occasion during the year, the rest are homegrown players.

``Everyone coming into the tournament would like to make top eight but you have to be realistic as well that some things are out of your control, that is, which pool you’re in and the strength of the opposition,’’ Atkins said.

``We just came here to do the best that we could and the results will look after themselves.’’

With three wins and a bonus-point loss, North Harbour coach Julie Kelman-Poto was pleased with the progress of her team, which has a proud history at this level, and securing a top-eight spot.

``We probably haven’t had quite long enough together but we’re getting there,’’ she said. ``All of the players have had some court time to get the feel of the tournament while we build towards getting our strongest seven to be at their best at the business end of the week.

``If we can get into the top four, I’d be pretty pleased.’’

See full draw and results

Day 2 Results

Pool D Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds 37-32 North Otago
Pool D Waitakere 41-18 Harbourside
Pool B Whangarei 57-20 Mainland Combined
Pool C Hawkes Bay 10-59 England
Pool C Christchurch 40-22 Pukekohe Kitchen Inspirations
Pool A Selwyn 29-35 Invercargill
Pool B Auckland 34-34 Manawatu
Pool A Wellington 31-22 Hutt Valley
Pool D North Otago 31-51 North Harbour
Pool D Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds 26-40 Harbourside
Pool B Mainland Combined 14-51 Trust Waikato Hamilton City
Pool C England 46-37 Dunedin
Pool C Hawkes Bay 31-25 Pukekohe Kitchen Inspirations
Pool A Howick Pakuranga 42-27 Selwyn
Pool B Whangarei 17-50 Manawatu
Pool A Invercargill 18-42 Wellington
Pool D North Harbour 31-34 Waitakere
Pool B Trust Waikato Hamilton City 35-31 Auckland
Pool C Dunedin 29-29 Christchurch
Pool A Howick Pakuranga 40-30 Hutt Valley