Emerging with unblemished records through the first three days, Auckland rivals Saint Kentigern College and Avondale College will contest Friday’s Netball NZ Secondary Schools Champs Grand Final.
The top eight teams had a busy final day of post-pool play at The Trusts Arena in Auckland to decide the final place play-off matches with the two local teams coming out on top after six straight wins.
Saint Kentigern had the perfect preparation for their crunch afternoon clash against the well-performed St Mary’s College, Wellington with an impressive 53-32 win over Mt Albert Grammar School.
Avondale were also relatively untroubled in shaking off defending champions Hamilton Girls’ High School before their showdown with Howick College.
Saint Kentigern and St Mary’s played out a cracking match with a strong start and finish getting the Auckland side across the line with a well-earned 37-31 win.
St Mary’s recovered from a faltering first quarter which left Saint Kentigern with a five-goal lead at the first break with two tight middle quarters following. During this time, possession remained tight with both teams doing a fine job of retaining the ball.
Both sets of shooters, Sophia Lafaiali’I and Lata Holi for Saint Kentigern, and Sonik Lia-Russel and Phoenix Schwalger impressed with their accuracy and composure to record impressive shooting returns.
But it was Saint Kentigern who enjoyed the slightest of possession edges and admirable fourth quarter resolve to keep the spirited St Mary’s at arms-length.
A dominant 11-5 second quarter proved the difference for Avondale College in an otherwise tight game against Howick College.
With slightly more ball in their hands, Avondale also had a dominant figure under the hoop in the form of tall shooter Priscilla Rasmussen, who produced standout figures of 29 goals from 31 attempts.
Menacing Avondale goal defence Lillian Henare-Vaihu dined out at the other end with an impressive five individual intercepts.
Howick College goal shoot Faith Taihia was also a model of consistency for the losing side with a 19 from 22 return under the hoop.
Saint Kentigern and Avondale were the second and third-placed qualifiers from the Upper North Island Secondary Schools competition.
Dunedin’s Columba College delivered a strong final day of post-pool play with excellent wins over Howick College, the Upper North Island Secondary Schools top qualifiers (27-23), followed by a strong 29-22 result over Hamilton Girls’ High School.
The southerners will meet St Mary’s in the play-off for third while Howick College and Christchurch’s St Margaret’s College will lock horns to decide the fifth-place finisher.