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Tight tussle for place in Pita Pit NZ Secondary School final

New Zealand’s top eight secondary school netball teams have been found but the guesswork on which two will contest the Pita Pit NZ Championships final continues.

Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, New Plymouth, Saint Kentigern College and Westlake Girls’ High School all netted wins in post-pool play at the Southern Trust Events Centre in Timaru on Wednesday.

But it was New Plymouth Girls’ High School and Westlake Girls’ High who turned heads in their key victories.

New Plymouth Girls’ came from behind to topple Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) late in the day while Westlake Girls’ needed extra time to beat St Hilda’s Collegiate School and keep their finals hopes alive.

It was a turnaround of fortunes for New Plymouth after losing to Westlake in pool play earlier in the day, but they started strongly against one of the tournament favourites in MAGS to set up their thrilling 31-30 win.

They led 9-5 at the first break but MAGS rallied in the third quarter and the Auckland school went into the fourth quarter with a one-goal advantage.

MAGS extended that lead to four after four minutes before New Plymouth mounted its comeback as goal keeper Isla Vink pulled in an intercept and goal shooter Angela Chubb netted eight from nine attempts at goal.

With the scores locked at 30-30, Chubb landed the winning goal with just a few seconds left on the clock.

Meanwhile, Westlake Girls’ also showed composure to beat St Hilda’s Collegiate 45-43 in extra time.

Both teams are coached by former Silver Ferns in April Ieremia (Westlake) and Jodi Brown (St Hilda’s) and nothing separated the two sides after regulation time with a 38-38 scoreline.

Three unanswered goals from Westlake in the second extra time spell was enough to secure it the win and Ieremia will now look to her experienced heads to guide them through another tough day.

Westlake Girls’ co-captain and centre Sara McCarthy has been a workhorse for her team both on attack and defence and will be a player to watch.

She has already notched up nine intercepts in the tournament including a key gain during extra time against St Hilda’s.

But there will be no letting up for the mid-courter as Westlake build for two crucial games against Manukura and top seeds Epsom Girls’ Grammar School on Thursday, with a place in Friday’s final up for grabs.

It will also be a big ask for St Hilda’s – who was the fifth ranked South Island team heading into the championships – to bounce back from the extra time loss, but they will need to rally as they meet Epsom Girls’ first up.

Epsom’ Girls accounted for Manukura 47-35 late on Tuesday to keep its record unblemished while Saint Kentigern held on for a 37-35 win over Hamilton Girls’ High School in another thriller.

Saint Kentigern’s started and finished strongly but will be wary of a few lulls through the middle stages when they meet a New Plymouth side high on confidence on Thursday morning.

The national final will be played at 1.40pm in Timaru on Friday.

Netball New Zealand is happy to announce we are live streaming the 3rd & 4th and 1st & 2nd matches of the finals day (12 October) of the 2018 Pita Pit NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champs. The live stream will be available on Netball New Zealand's Facebook page or our Youtube channel.