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Winning start for defending champions

Back-to-back wins on the opening day of the Netball NZ U19 Championship gave Wellington the perfect start to defending their title when the four-day tournament got under way in the capital on Monday.

With team participation increasing to 20 from last year’s 18, including 19 Beko Netball League players spread throughout the teams, and the inclusion of an England U19 team for the first time, Wellington secured comfortable 46-27 and 41-23 wins over Selwyn and Howick Pakuranga, respectively.

With no players returning from last year’s title-winning team, Wellington got their preparation under way with a solid two-goal win over England in a warm-up match the day before the competition started.

"That set us up well for the rest of the week and getting two-out-of-two on the first day is a really good way to start," Wellington coach Pelesa Semu said.

"From today, the aim is to just keep progressing. It’s a completely new team this year which is a great challenge. Many of the players are new to each other, so during our nine-week campaign we have just tried to build combinations and create an environment where they push each other and learn from each other."

There were also two wins apiece for those considered to be strong contenders at the business end of the tournament, in the shape of Auckland, Waitakere and North Harbour.

Semu was wary of the Auckland teams which she said always competed well at this level as well as the southern challenge provided by Christchurch and Dunedin. With two WBOP Magic players – Sydney Fraser and Amorangi Malesala – from the ANZ Premiership in their line-up as well as 2016 Secondary Schools Player of the Year, Courtney Elliott, Hamilton City are expected to pose a serious threat.

England, who will not challenge for the title, also posted two comprehensive opening day wins and are delighted to be involved in the tournament.

It has been of special significance for England assistant coach Amanda Newton and something of a homecoming for the former England defender who turned out for the Capital City Shakers in New Zealand’s national league in 1999.

"It is a great opportunity to play in this tournament, we don’t have these sorts of opportunities at home and the level of competition here is really high, so it’s good for our 19s to get this exposure to the New Zealand style of play," she said.

The Netball NZ U19 Champs continues tomorrow from 10.30am and culminates in a grand final on Thursday 13 July.

See full draw and results

Day 1 Results

Pool C

Christchurch

20 - 37

England

Pool A

Wellington

46 - 27

Selwyn

Pool A

Invercargill

39 - 37

Howick Pakuranga

Pool D

Waitakere

57 - 23

North Otago

Pool B

Auckland

57 - 22

Mainland Combined

Pool B

Trust Waikato Hamilton City

51 - 15

Whangarei

Pool C

Dunedin

55 - 27

Hawkes Bay

Pool D

North Harbour

55 - 17

Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds

Pool A

Hutt Valley

44 - 24

Selwyn

Pool A

Wellington

41 - 23

Howick Pakuranga

Pool C

Pukekohe Kitchen Inspirations

13 - 55

England

Pool B

Manawatu

57 - 20

Mainland Combined

Pool B

Auckland

52 - 22

Whangarei

Pool D

Harbourside

35 - 30

North Otago

Pool D

Waiktakere

46 - 19

Nelson Russells Curtains & Blinds

Pool C

Christchurch

40 - 29

Hawkes Bay

Pool C

Dunedin

43 - 22

Pukekohe Kitchen Inspirations

Pool A

Invercargill

35 - 26

Hutt Valley

Pool D

North Harbour

38 - 18

Harbourside

Pool B

Trust Waikato Hamilton City

28 - 32

Manawatu