New Zealand's top secondary school netballers are to star in their own made-for-television series this winter.
To be played in conjunction with the established ANZ Championship, this new-look competition will be contested by the top 18 schools in New Zealand.
Games will be played over four eight-minute quarters with a golden goal decider if needed. The winning goal will be hotly contested with the respective centres pitted against each other in a basketball-style tip-off.
The 18 schools representing the three regions are: Upper North Island - MAGS, AGGS, Cambridge HS, EGGS, Hamilton GHS and St Kentigern; Lower North Island - Tu Toa, PNGHS, St Mary's College (Wellington), Wellington East GC, Sacred Heart GC (New Plymouth) and Paraparaumu College; South Island - Craighead Diocesan (Timaru), Rangi Ruru GS, Columba College, St Margaret's College, Waimea College and Marian College.
Some games will be played live on Monday nights as curtainraisers to ANZ Championship matches, while others will be played on Sundays and shown on Monday nights in the same spot on Sky Sport.
The initiative follows the hugely successful televised college rugby matches shown on Sky Sport last winter. Unlike the rugby, the netball games, played on a knockout basis, will be a stand-alone competition with a new College Netball Trophy at stake.
Eleven of the 18 matches will be televised, with four to be shown live.
The competition opener will be played on April 1 between AGGS and Hamilton GHS at Trusts Stadium (5.40pm) and shown the following night as a lead-in to the ANZ Championship clash between the Southern Steel and the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
The first live college game will be on April 16 between Cambridge HS and EGGS as curtainraiser to the Northern Mystics vs West Coast Fever match - both games at Trusts Stadium.
The final, to be played at Trusts Stadium on July 1, will be shown the following night as a lead-in to the final ANZ Championship regular season game between the Magic and the Queensland Firebirds.
Sacred Heart sprinter Dalton Coppins used last week's Greater Auckland SS meet at Mt Smart Stadium as the ideal preparation for the national track and field championships which followed a few days later across town at Trusts Stadium.
While headwinds counted out any records, Coppins was impressive in winning the sprint double at the schools championships and a repeat at the nationals at the weekend.
The meet avoided the worst of the weather, with only a little rain falling during the final 4x400m relay.
Intermediate athlete Megan Kikuchi (Birkenhead College) was brilliant on the track, winning the testing 200m-400m double, her second gold over the longer distance by an impressive 3.04s.
In a strong showing in relay events, MAGS won three golds, two silvers and a bronze with victories to their 4x100m teams in junior and senior girls and junior boys. The school won 26 medals, with Jamie Sowter leading the charge with gold in the senior 400m, triple jump and as a member of the girl's 4x100m relay team.
She also won silver in the long jump and 4x400m relay and bronze in the 200m. Aaron McLelland completed the 400m double in taking that senior title.
Talented junior Niven Longopoa added to the school's haul with gold in the long jump, 80m hurdles and relay, and silver in the keenly-contested 100m final.
Last round wins for St Peter's School and Hamilton BHS Development XI booked places in this week's final of the term one division one one-day competition.
St Peter's were under no pressure as they cruised to a 10-wicket win over St John's for top spot and a home final.
St Peter's won the toss and sent St John's in. In trouble from the outset, St John's limped to 105 in the 34th over. Chief destroyers for St Peter's were Josh Oakley (4-9) and Jono Whitley (2-15), while Connor Clarke (19) top scored for St John's. The St Peter's response was comprehensive, with both openers unbeaten as Douglas Bradley (43) and Sam Pulis (42) overtook their target in the 20th over.
In a virtual semifinal, HBHS Development won the toss and elected to bat first and piled on 268/9 with opener Nick Reddish (75) and first drop Matt Lowe (71) sharing an excellent 119-run partnership before Reddish combined with Callum Brown (51) for another 73-run partnership.
Elliott Law (3-51), Sean Rudman (2-53) and Neil Rudman (2-54) profited from the aggressive batting approach in the last 10 overs.
Hillcrest quickly slumped to 52/8 from 21 overs thanks to the HBHS opening bowlers Jak Clark (3-29) and Simon Paris (3-33).
Matamata College had a comfortable win over Cambridge High to defend the Dave Hosking Trophy.
Led by four goals from tournament MVP Dominique Scragg, St Cuthberts beat the hotly-favoured Rangitoto team 7-5 in an exciting girl's final at the North Island SS championships.
It was the first time since 1996 St Cuthberts have won the title. There was added merit in claiming the crown, as these days they have no school pool, following its demolition late last year.
They train instead in chilly water at St Mary's College.
Playing Diocesan in their pool, St Cuthberts came back from 0-2 to win their semifinal 4-2 before going on to beat Rangitoto in the final.
It was not a happy finals day for Rangitoto as they also lost the boy's bronze match 9-3 to long-time rivals WBHS, for whom Michael Goff and Tamati Harris scored hat-tricks.
ON THE WEB: asbcollegesport.co.nzBy Terry Maddaford Email Terry