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Top four prepare for semi-finals in Netball NZ U17 Champs

The final four teams to fight it out for the Anna Rowberry Cup at the Netball NZ U17 Champs are all the usual suspects, bar one.

Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch – all winners of the title over the past four years – have again played their way through to tomorrow’s semi-finals at the Pukekohe Netball Centre. But the young Howick Pakuranga side is the giant-slayer joining them.

Howick Pakuranga boasts a team of predominantly Year 11 players. They beat Taranaki 37-20 in this morning’s top 16 playoff match, to come up against a more experienced Trust Waikato Hamilton City in the quarterfinals. But with their strong defence and steady shooters, the Howick Pakuranga side caused a minor upset in outgunning Hamilton, 32-20.

They will now line-up against defending champions Wellington Black A in tomorrow morning’s semi-final clash. Wellington continued their determined march towards the final with two almost identical victories today – 44-21 over Hawkes Bay, and 44-19 over Manawatu in the quarter-final.

Auckland 1 were also in decisive form, knocking Harbourside out of contention with a 72-21 defeat, before coming up against their sister side, Auckland 2, and winning 35-22.

Their semis opponents, Christchurch, had a tougher battle to make it through to the top four, with a one-goal win over North Harbour 1, 35-34. But in their quarter-final square-off with Eastern Waikato, the tall timber and fast mid-court in the South Island side proved too strong in the last game of the afternoon, winning 40-33.

Tomorrow’s final will be played at 2.45pm at the Pukekohe Netball Centre – the first time a national tournament has been played there.

All of the placings of the 38 teams in this year’s Netball NZ U17 Champs will be determined on tomorrow’s final day. The four-day outdoor tournament, featuring more than 450 talented young players from throughout the country, is the largest event on Netball New Zealand’s calendar.