Hawke's Bay Netball operations manager Tina Arlidge labelled yesterday as the biggest in the history of her organisation and nobody will contest that.
Wellington-based Hawke's Bay midcourter Kimiora Poi shone in an impact role as her New Zealand under-21 team won the World Youth Cup title in Botswana with a 60-57 win against Australia in the final. Within hours the Hawke's Bay under-17 team opened their national tournament in Pukekohe with two wins.
"We're really proud of Kimi as well as the under-17s. Several of the players in the under-17 side went to Napier Girls' High School when Kimi was there and from what I hear most of the team watched coverage of the final so it proved an ideal form of motivational ammunition for the team," Arlidge said.
Poi also represented the Hawke's Bay under-17 team under current coach Lee-Anne Taylor. Yesterday Taylor's troops beat Mid Canterbury 59-26 and Whangarei 30-29.
Against Mid Canterbury the Bay made a slick start and established a commanding 17-7 lead. Imke Kitchin, a 2016 world record holder for her age group on the erg, and Aotearoa Maori Secondary Schools rep Asher Grapes worked the shooting circle well to provide clear options for midcourt captain Hinehea Keil and vice-captain Myer Crawford-Pakoti.
Further defensive pressure from Jaimee Tapine, Valentine Kahukura and Bree White saw Hawke's Bay ahead 29-12 at halftime. Substitute Janayah Lewis came on strong in the third quarter in the goal attack position and some deceptive passing left Mid Canterbury wanting as Kitchin shot at 90 per cent and pulled in any stray misses.
Substitute midcourter Summer-Rose Taylor also made quality impact shutting down the Mid Canterbury wing attack and providing strong drives to the attacking end. Maddi Kaye came on strong in the final quarter with Zana Renton to complete a satisfying first game performance.
"There were clear targets for sub units on court and they worked coherently to execute the game plan," Bay assistant coach Rebecca Martin said.
As the score suggests the Whangarei game was a tight affair. Hawke's Bay were able to capitalise on early pressure and held an early 6-2 lead. Whangarei got their rhythm and levelled the score at 7-all after the first quarter.
This deadlock couldn't be broken and the score was 15-all at halftime. Hawke's Bay started the third quarter strongly and took a six-goal lead with good through court attack from Grapes, Crawford-Pakoti and Lewis. Kitchin was again strong under the post.
However basic errors and inconsistency let the opposition back into the game. Hawke's Bay were ahead at the beginning of the fourth quarter and held on for the victory.
"It was great to see us grind out the second win of the day, however we will need to be far more clinical for our final pool games tomorrow," coach Taylor said.
Hawke's Bay take on North Harbour One and Rotorua today before beginning crossover matches tomorrow.