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Netball NZ U17 Champs kicks off competition in Pukekohe

Only hours after the NZU21s side won their second successive World Youth Cup in Botswana, the next generation of netballers hoping to defend the title in four years’ time were showing their skills on day one of the Netball NZ U17 Champs at Pukekohe Netball Centre.

The Netball NZ U17 Champs is the largest event on the Netball New Zealand calendar – this year featuring 38 teams and more than 450 talented young players across the four-day tournament.

“The beauty of this tournament is that it gives a snapshot of the future of New Zealand netball,” Emerging Talent Panel Selector Lee-Anne Clark says. “Even after the first day, it’s evident that there is a pretty high standard of netball coming through at the under 17 level. It’s our current area of strength, and the next generation of World Youth Cup stars will no doubt come from this group of players.”

Even after the first day of pool play, it was also evident that the strongholds of U17 Netball in recent years – Auckland and Wellington – are continuing their domination.

Auckland 1, a team boasting strength in all areas through the court, had two decisive wins today; the first over home side Pukekohe, 53-19, and then a similar 52-25 victory over Taranaki.

Defending champions Wellington A have the advantage of experience on their side. Two of their players, Ainsleyana Puleiata and Renee Savai’inaea, were in the Netball Central team in this year’s Beko Netball League; while Silver Ferns shooting legend Irene van Dyk is assistant coach to former Wellington NPC coach Dion Te Whetu.

They beat Papakura 51-8 in their opening match, and followed that up with a convincing a 46-24 win over Christchurch in the afternoon.

In one of the early surprises, Auckland 2 overcame the traditionally strong Trust Waikato Hamilton City A side, 43-30.

Pool play continues from 8.15am tomorrow at the Pukekohe Netball Centre - the first time a national Netball tournament has been held there.