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Race for Beko Netball League finals spot heats up

The chasing pack in the Beko Netball League look set to tighten the screws on the frontrunners as the business end of the season looms.

The Northern Marvels and Netball South both scored key victories in the latest round leaving the points table congested with just five rounds remaining before the June 18 grand final in Auckland.

Netball Central remain well clear in the top spot and unbeaten while Hellers Netball Mainland, despite a hefty loss last week, still holds second spot. But South, the Marvels and Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) are within reach and will be eyeing up crucial points in Round 8.

South has shown a 20-goal win over Mainland puts them firmly back on track to defend the title they won in the inaugural Beko Netball League season last year and they head to Rotorua this weekend to meet WBOP who they beat by two goals at the start of the season.

South was strong in all areas last week led by defender and captain Ashleigh Smith and will be tough to beat despite being on the road.

The Marvels are also making a move at the right time with a narrow loss to Mainland in Round 6, where they earned a valuable bonus point, before beating WBOP by two goals last week.

They will be out for more points at the High Wire Gymnasium in Papakura this weekend when they meet the bottom-placed High Wire Trust Northern Comets – although it was the hosts which took maximum points last time they met with the Comets winning by one goal in Round 3.

Shooter Tera-Maria Amani, who is a member of the SKYCITY Mystics squad and had court time in the ANZ Premiership, has been a stand-out for the Marvels in recent outings netting more than 90 per cent of her attempts at goal in their last three matches.

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At the other end of the court goal keeper Tauhi Lopeti was also in top form against WBOP where she picked up one intercept and six deflections.

A win will be decisive if the Marvels are to make a bid for a place in the final two with two tough rounds ahead against Mainland and Central.

In the other match, it is a top-of-the- table clash with Mainland hosting the unbeaten Central at the EA Networks Centre in Ashburton on Sunday.

Mainland captain Sophia Fenwick said it would be back to the “drawing board” after a big loss in Round 7 and consolidating combinations with regular shooter Ellie Bird looking likely to feature in the remainder of the Silvermoon Tactix’ campaign in the ANZ Premiership.