Netball: Otane's reign eclipses dynasty

By Anendra Singh


They had the matriarch of Hawke's Bay netball, Eliza Falcon, on their bench.

If that wasn't enough, Falcon's daughter, Jewels Falcon, also dutifully assumed the mantle of coach.

The younger Falcon, the 2012 Eastern women's coach, then slipped on goal defence/goal shoot bibs to rev up her Physique side in the Hastings Pak'N Save Premier Netball League in Napier but to no avail.

Speights Ale House Otane were just not in the mood for any hanky panky, crushing Physique 63-28 last night in the first round of the Top Four competition at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.

Favourites by a country mile, the Becky Kupa-coached/captained black machine was hard to distinguish from the navy blues in the night light as Physique opted for a white strap-on bib for some differentiation.

That's where the similarities between the defending champions and the pretenders ended. Nothing accentuated that stark contrast more than Otane's regal display in every quarter - 15-7; 33-11 (18-4) at halftime; 48-20 (15-9) and 63-28 (15-8) - to signal their supremacy.

Eliza Falcon, who once occupied the throne of ascendancy for years at the helm of Physique as coach with her daughters, is now a dynasty that will be mentioned in passing.

The new dynasty well and truly belongs to the Kupas.

With the Gisborne Top Four teams competing at the PG Arena this weekend, Kupa didn't know their oppositions' measure but is relishing the unknown quantity.

"They are good, grunty teams who play with a lot of passion and pride so they've got nothing to lose," the wing defence said.

Otane's shooters last night weren't exactly on fire. Chris Leppien managed 33 from 43 (77 per cent) while Tammy Kupa managed 10/14 (71 per cent).

For Physique, Cheleme Smiler-Ah Kiong scored 15/27 (55 per cent) but Naomi Whitewood struggled with 7/15 (47 per cent).

"We were a little patchy so it took the shooters a wee while to get into a rhythm but once we did, we were all right," Kupa said although she felt basic errors such as stepping and breaking were controllables and Otane should have done better.

She was proud of her young players who were improving every game, after Otane put up a sizeable score before injecting them alongside a couple of seniors.

For Physique, captain Kataraina Rowe is only 21 years old and the only remaining player from last season but a six-year veteran at the premier level.

The EIT graduate, who works for parliamentarian Parekura Horomia, said although she was the only regular face she found it enjoyable in a mixture of veterans such as Smiler-Ah Kiong and Angela Stubbs and youngsters such as Aaliyah Ah Kiong.

"The young ones keep it fresh and offer a new challenge," said Rowe, who threw herself about but acknowledged the collective lacked crucial experience.

"We're getting there because it's about building momentum," said the GD/centre who recalled her halcyon days with the Falcon Dynasty.

Second-placed, Kaylene Higgs-coached HSOG Huias beat Havelock North Kauri 57-45 in the other match last night.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 23 Apr 2014 21:50:41 Processing Time: 419ms