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Northern Comets excited for the future

Northern Comets captain Chonaire Huriwai promises her side can reach new levels next season having ended their Beko Netball League campaign with a third straight win.

The Comets held off a fast-finishing Northern Marvels to net a 58-56 win at Pulman Arena on Sunday in what was their last game for 2019.

Huriwai was pleased with a performance to reward their home fans for their support and to show they are building towards their next campaign.

“We’re always building toward being better and next year I think we’ll be able to take it to a whole new level,” she said.

Connections on and off court had been their focus heading into their season swansong and it showed as they stepped up in all areas.

“We talked a lot about connection today and what whanau means to us as a team,” Huriwai said. “We really took that on to court today and showed it through our connections out there.”

The wing defence said the Comets now had a nice mix of experienced heads and young players like Vika Koloto, who was this week named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools team, as a strong foundation for the future.

It took a storming third quarter effort from the Comets, who won the spell 16-8, to put the hosts in charge and with just 15 minutes left in their season, they were determined to fend off the Marvels for victory.

Pride was on the line for the two teams who were well out of contention for next month’s Grand Final, but the game was marred by a messy opening spell with nearly two minutes having counted down before a goal was scored.

The tall defensive Marvels combination put plenty of early pressure on to the Comets with Jessie Taylor (1.89m) and Olivia Coughlan (1.90m) both getting hand to ball.

They held a 17-13 advantage at the quarter break but the score was locked at 31-31 each at halftime.

It was an opportunity for coach Ripeka Pirie to introduce Nanise Waqaira into the Marvels defence line, the 17-year-old having impressed in recent weeks with a number of minutes in the ANZ Premiership.

But it was the Comets which came out the stronger team in the third stanza as the hosts defence trio of Oceane Maihi, Chanelle Campbell and Huriwai smothered the Marvels frontline, forcing it into errors as the Comets pushed clear.

The drive and quick release from wing attack Nadia Loveday was also crucial in finding the Comets’ goal scorers in a tight circle, as her side opened up a 47-39 lead with one quarter to play.

But the Marvels had one last charge at their netball neighbours with Waqaira making her presence felt while Maine-Crystal Maro showed her class at goal shoot.