Fideliter took 59 minutes and 59 seconds to snatch victory and secure their place in the championship final, with a last-second 38-37 victory over Whangarei Old Boys in Whangarei Premier Netball on Saturday.
The first quarter was the usual flurry of activity as both sides tried to find their rhythm, with Old Boys goal shoot Aleisha Takimoana making her presence felt early, holding her space well in the circle for nicely weighted passes from her feeders and making the shots count.
Both sides traded shots but Old Boys got on a roll with Takimoana the proverbial thorn in Fideliters' side. Old Boys went into the break with a handy five-point advantage.
In the second period, Fideliter lifted their intensity and brought themselves back into the match, including some handy positional play from midcourters Ursula Albrecht and Emma Hearsey. Both sides stepped up their defensive presence with the momentum shifting throughout but Old Boys maintained their advantage at the half-time break.
In the third quarter, Old Boys meant business and punished a slow starting Fideliter, lifting to an eight-point advantage early. Consistent pressure from Old Boys defender Sue-Anne David disrupted Fideliter in the early stages, bringing her side some valuable bonus possession. However, Fideliter were not about to give in and with an extra burst in the final stages drew back. With just one quarter remaining, Old Boys held their original 5-point advantage.
In the final period, Fideliter came out firing right from the opening whistle, relentless defensive pressure forcing some early errors from Old Boys. Fideliters' united front, guided by outstanding defender Loren Eagle, ensured a busy and consistent defence through court and, in turn, amazing patience on attack to ensure the goals counted.
With just a few minutes remaining in the match, an injury break for Fideliter captain Ursula Albrecht, after a mid-air collision, fuelled Fideliters' resolve. With just a minute remaining in the match, Fideliter drew even and worked the ball patiently into their shooters where goal shoot Tina Cachemellie-Bayne, with time up on the clock, stepped up to make the penalty shot.
Fideliter snatched the victory and their place in this year's premier final.
In the other premier match, Manawanui and Marist 1 clashed to secure a top-4 finish, with Manawanui scoring another come from behind victory 45-43.
Both sides started the match at pace, with Marist looking the more pacy. However, nature put paid to that tactic with the rain arriving midway through the first quarter and slowing the match down considerably.
Marist's June Hilton-Jones impressed in the unfamiliar role of goal attack, moving the circle and shooting well for her side, along with Jessica Lowe and Erin McEvoy working hard in the midcourt.
In the second quarter, Manawanui started to find their rhythm, cutting down on the errors and patiently got into their work. The youth of the side shone with Trudi Smith having another strong match in the midcourt. Rihannon Reti showed her versatility with an excellent match in goal defence.
Reti had an outstanding match, teaming up well with Rita Himiona and wing defence Kahu Dick to good effect for a strong defensive turn heading into the second half.
Marist took the upper hand early in the third quarter, catching Manawanui on the back foot, Hilton-Jones marshalling her troops and defender Harriette Hardy lifting her side with some timely bonus possession.
Heading in the final period, Marist held a narrow 4-point advantage and extended that to 7 early in the piece.
However, looking at a heartbreaking defeat and not keen to let the match go, Manawanui dug deep and chipped away at Marist, one goal at a time, eventually taking the victory by 2 to retain their top-4 status.
With the final placings now decided, Fideliter 1 take on the unbeaten Marist Old Girls in the final for the championship title for 2008, Manawanui face-off with Whangarei Old Boys in a tantalising rematch for third and fourth, and Marist 1 face Whangarei Girls' High School for fifth and sixth.