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Waikato-BOP net second straight victory

A determined Waikato-BOP put in the hard grind to net their second straight win in the Beko Netball League and shoot to the top of the ladder.

But they were forced to do it the hard way in front of a home crowd as they came from five goals down in the fourth spell to beat Central 60-56 at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on Sunday.

Both the Northern Marvels and Northern Comets were also winners in Round 2 with the Marvels also coming from behind to beat South by one goal and the Comets beating Heller’s Mainland.

The high-scoring affair in Hamilton was played at an impressive standard with momentum swinging throughout the match. But Waikato-BOP captain Simmon Howe believed their patience in the deciding quarter proved the difference.

“Once we held onto the ball and played the safe option it worked for us,” she said after the final whistles.

She was quick to recognise their “grind” throughout an intense 60 minutes of play as Waikato-BOP rallied on a number of occasions to haul in Central.

“We just never gave up,” Howe said. “Consistency is important – playing the short option, slowing it down when we need to but then using full speed as well.”

Young shooter Khiarna Williams was brought back on court in a thrilling fourth quarter and the 15-year-old maintained her composure as the pressure went on.

“She stepped up and she’s only 15,” Howe said. “We’re so proud of her.”

SEE: DRAW, RESULTS AND MORE

Shooting partner Kelsey McPhee, who moved between goal attack and shooter throughout the game, was the stand-out however putting up 51 attempts at goal with 86 per cent success. She was named player of the match.

Central captain Elle Temu said nerves may have gotten to her side in the fourth quarter when they gave up a five-goal advantage.

“I think we just started playing too fast,” she said. “We went off structure and the pressure got to us.”

As they did in the league’s opening round, Waikato-BOP was strong out of the blocks and they impressed in all areas of the court.

It wasn’t until mid-way through the spell before Central warmed to their task as they slashed the lead to just three goals.

From that point there were ever only a handful of goals between the two teams as they jostled to get the upper hand.

Central’s wing defence Renee Savai’inaea made an impact after coming off the bench in the second quarter as the visitors gained the ascendancy in the spell.

Two unforced errors from Waikato-BOP late in the half gave Central the opening they needed as shooting rock Jermaine Howard-Vallance calmly slotted four straight goals to put them up by one at the main break.

It prompted Waikato-BOP coach Mary-Jane Araroa to make some positional changes up front with Howe, who started at wing attack, and centre Ali Wilshier swapping bibs.

She also re-jigged the defence line with Lyanne Eukiliti moving out of the circle onto the wing, Jenna O’Sullivan from keeper to goal defence and Georgia Tong coming off the bench.

The personnel changes continued through the quarter but the intensity remained as neither team could take advantage on the scoreboard.

A run of five straight goals from Central gave them the edge and they absorbed yet another surge from Waikato-BOP to go into the fourth spell with a 48-43 lead.

Momentum shifted again as Araroa made more changes to her seven in the deciding stanza and her charges rallied to come within one in the first few minutes of play.

The scores were tied 54-54 with just under four minutes on the clock but the defensive pressure applied by both Jenna O’Sullivan and Georgia Tong turned over some valuable ball for Waikato-BOP as they netted a string of four goals to snatch victory.

Meanwhile, the Northern Marvels trailed at every break in their match-up with South at The Trusts Arena in Auckland but came back strongly in the third and fourth quarters to win their game by just one goal.

Goal shooter Christie Anderson netted the last two goals in the last 10 seconds of play to claim a 50-49 victory.

The Northern Comets finished strongly in their 54-49 win over Heller’s Mainland in Auckland.