Well-versed Hamilton City to meet surprise package Manawatu in NZ U19 final
In a direct contrast, experience will come up against the unheralded when Trust Waikato Hamilton City and Manawatu meet in tomorrow’s final of the 2017 Netball NZ U19 Champs in Wellington.
After narrowly dropping an early pool match to the well-performed Manawatu, Hamilton City have gathered momentum to register four straight wins in advancing to the final, despatching Dunedin 45-32 and Wellington 30-25 in today’s quarter and semi-finals.
"I’m thrilled, this group has been an awesome bunch of girls to work with and just looking forward to tomorrow now," delighted Hamilton City coach Rebecca Gabel said afterwards.
As with Wellington, Waitakere - who have an impressive record at this level - came into today’s quarter-finals with an unblemished record after five straight wins. Their closest margin being a three-goal win over North Harbour in pool play.
Surprise package of the tournament Manawatu brushed aside Christchurch 40-23 in this morning’s quarter-final to match Waitakere’s comfortable 34-24 win over Invercargill, setting up a semi-final showdown between the pair.
Moving stealthily through pool play, Manawatu continued their impressive form to deliver the knockout blow to Waitakere with a polished 36-29 win to book their place as surprise finalists.
Defending champions Wellington, with a new-look team in 2017, made the better start to lead by three goals at the first break before Hamilton City gradually assumed a grip on proceedings.
With two ANZ Premiership players and three who played in the Beko Netball League this season, Hamilton City held an advantage in the experience stakes in what was a hard-fought and entertaining spectacle.
Both teams were strong defensively, the ball swinging back and forth for long periods without a goal being scored but for Hamilton City, WBOP Magic shooter Amorangi Malesala was a key cog. In the end, it was Hamilton City's ability to stay composed under pressure that won through.
"It was a really well-contested game between two evenly matched teams," Gabel said.
"It was a physical game and I was really proud with how my girls stood up to that and held their own.
We’ve basically only had one training where we’ve had all squad together, so this week has been about building our combinations and making the most of every opportunity to get our connections going.
"It’s been a lovely team to work with. There’s a group that’s come through together from U17s and a number that play club together, so that’s helped a lot."
Earlier in the day, North Harbour, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill were knocked out of semi-final contention after losing to Wellington, Manawatu, Hamilton City and Waitakere, respectively.
Day 3 Results
|Howick Pakuranga||47-36||Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds|
|Selwyn||30-23||Pukekohe Kitchen Inspirations|
|Trust Waikato Hamilton City||45-32||Dunedin|
|Mainland Combined||36-43||North Otago|
|Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds||31-38||Whangarei|
|Hawkes Bay||22-25||Hutt Valley|
|Wellington||25-30||Trust Waikato Hamilton City|