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​Waikato-BOP the team to beat

Waikato-BOP continues to set the pace in the Beko Netball League with a convincing win over the Northern Comets their third straight victory.

The Mary-Jane Araroa coached side dominated in their 70-46 win over the Comets at the new Pulman Arena in Auckland on Sunday.

In other league matches, Central also netted a big win over South in Invercargill while Heller’s Mainland held on to beat the Northern Marvels by two goals.

But it is Waikato-BOP, as the only unbeaten team after three rounds, which continue to impress and captain Simmon Howe said it was great to get such a good win in their first away game.

“It was a grind at the start but at the end we pulled away and I’m really happy to get the win,” she said. “Getting our whole 10 on court and playing really well was a really consistent game from us.”

Howe, who was named player of the match, stood out up front with her vision into the circle and links in to shooter Kelsey McPhee.

“We feel connected,” she said regarding their confidence to let the ball go throughout the court.

Waikato-BOP was strong in all seven roles on court as they worked as a unit to deprive the Comets of scoring opportunities.

Comets captain Emma Iversen said her side came up against an opponent that “just wanted it a lot more”.

“I think we just turned up really flat today and obviously our option taking wasn’t great and we forced it long a lot with a hunting circle,” she said.

The connection from attack to the shooting circle was where it often broke down for the Comets – accuracy not an issue when the ball finally found their goal scorers with Ivana Rowland and Filda Vui netting 88 per cent of their attempts.

“We forced a lot of passes today and it didn’t go our way,” Iversen said

But it was Waikato-BOP which took time to work their way into the game and nearly four minutes had counted down before they troubled the scoreboard in the first quarter.

The new shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Amorangi Malesala bedded itself in and by the mid-way point of the first stanza, were proving a handful for the Comets’ defence.

Goal keeper Georgia Tong did her best to help her side stay in touch with the Comets early on as she grabbed four clean intercepts in the opening spell.

A string of five straight goals gave Waikato-BOP a 19-14 advantage going into the second quarter and from there the visitors stepped up another gear.

The defensive trio of Tong, Jenna O’Sullivan and Emily Patterson did a great job of limiting ball to the accurate Comets shooting duo of Rowland and Vui who missed just one attempt in the first half.

Waikato-BOP led 38-26 at the main break which saw ANZ Premiership player Malesala go to the bench with Khiarna Williams coming on at goal attack, while Tong also made way for Hannah Ridling at goal keeper.

Comets coach Vicki Morgan also went to her bench in a bid to pull back the deficit with Christina Oscar returning to the court at wing attack where she teamed up again with Emma Iversen in the middle.

Despite an error-riddled third quarter from both teams, Waikato-BOP continued to build on their lead only taking their foot off the scoring pedal in the fourth stanza when they managed 13 goals.

It wasn’t the only blow-out in the league this weekend with Central dominating in their visit to the Deep South to beat South 60-36.

Both teams were locked 11-11 at the quarter break but Central lifted in the second half to net the confidence-boosting win.

Mainland led at every break against the Marvels but faced a few anxious moments in the deciding quarter as their opponent came within two.

The 53-51 win sees Mainland sit in second place on the points ladder, behind Waikato-BOP, after three rounds.

Results:

Waikato-BOP 70 (Kelsey McPhee 44/53, Amorangi Malesala 15/18, Khiarna Williams 11/13) beat Northern Comets 46 (Ivana Rowland 30/33, Filda Vui 16/19). Quarter scores: 19-14, 38-26, 57-37, 70-46.

Central 60 (Jermaine Howard-Vallance 32/40, Monalisa Groom 3/5, Saviour Tui 25/30) beat South 36 (Isabella Masani 20/25, Jess Allan 8/8, Georgia Heffernan 8/14). Quarter scores: 11-11, 26-21, 43-28, 60-36.

Mainland 53 (Grace Namana 11/13, Tiana Placid 13/17, Jess Prosser 29/37) beat Northern Marvels 51 (Tera-Maria Amani 12/13, Meretini Fuimaono 10/13, Christie Anderson 29/33). Quarter scores: 14-11, 31-23, 46-36, 53-51.