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Northern Comets bounce back for key win

The Northern Comet’s defensive depth was tested as they overcame South to pick up their second Beko Netball League win of the season.

A stand-out performance from captain and mid-courter Emma Iversen paved the way for Comets as they beat South 53-48 at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Sunday.

Iversen, who was named player of the match, was pleased her team lifted from last week’s big loss to Waikato-BOP.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” she said. “I think we played our own game, stuck to our plan and it paid off.”

She showcased her ability to set the tempo up front, her vision into her shooters was top class and she was hungry for ball on defence, picking up a couple of intercepts.

“I think my passing accuracy was better this week and I just have confidence in our girls to let the ball go,” Iversen said.

South captain Kate Heffernan said her side would take some positives out of the match despite still searching for their first win of the season.

“The girls are all learning so much from every game, our connections are growing,” she said. “When it’s good it’s great but we just need to keep working on that.”

The Comets’ defensive depth was tested before they had even taken the court as coach Vicki Morgan was forced to make a change to her starting seven. Goal defender Talia Hullena suffered a serious injury in the warm-up, ruling our out of contention for game time.

But they focussed on the job at hand and made the first break out on court, showing how quickly they could transition from defence onto attack with shooters Filda Vui and Eseta Autagavaia finding their radar early.

The mid-court combination of Iversen and Lahaina-Lee Upu-Toparea utilised their speed and their first option was to look long into the shooting circle.

But South warmed into their task with the introduction of Georgia Heffernan into the shooting circle with five minutes left in the quarter, sparking the frontline into action.

Goal defence Kendall McMinn and wing Lauren Pickett were hungry for ball outside of the circle and McMinn was a strong driver through court on attack.

South led 11-9 and coach Georgie Salter made perhaps a planned change in the defensive circle after the break with Tarryn Dickson replacing McMinn.

They picked up where they left off and led by four goals before one of many momentum shifts took place as Comets went of a four-goal run and grabbed the lead mid-way through the spell.

It prompted South to re-introduce McMinn to the game to stem the easy flow of ball into Comets’ shooters.

The momentum swings continued in the third quarter as South slashed a four-goal lead to just one, but the hosts were plagued by unforced errors which hampered their chances on the scoreboard.

Comets’ superior return on converting any turnover ball saw them jump out to a six-goal lead with Iversen dictating early in the fourth stanza.

But as they had done throughout the match, South rallied and the gap was cut to just one goal in a tense deciding quarter. Goal defence Sophie Erwood, who started the game in the mid-court, helped the charge home while replacement shooter Isabella Masini came on strongly.

A defensive pick-up by goal keeper Chanelle Campbell snuffed South’s chances in the last two minutes as the Comets picked up the five-goal win.

In other games played, Central turned on a strong third quarter to beat the Northern Marvels 61-54 at the Auckland Netball Centre on Saturday.

Both teams impressed with their shooting performance with the Marvels netting 93 per cent of their attempts at goal and Central 91 per cent. But a switch in Central’s defensive circle gave the visitors the edge in the third spell to give them a match-winning lead.