Had Napier Girls' High School Senior A lost then it would have been a riveting story but, predictably, the Super 8 championship upstarts prevailed as the Hawke's Bay secondary schools' premier netball side this week.
Consequently coach Annemarie Kupa and her rampant schoolgirls will be heading off to the lower North Island championship at the ASB Sports Centre at Kilbirnie, Wellington, this weekend with a view to making the cull for the nationals to be staged in Nelson early next month.
NGHS overwhelmed Hastings Girls' High School 40-26 in the final of the premier Unison-sponsored Super 12 competition at the Pettigrew-Green Arena on Tuesday night.
That meant NGHS haven't lost the Super 12 crown since the Hastings and Napier centres amalgamated to form Hawke's Bay Netball.
But what can we make of the other grades at the Bay finals?
What made Wairoa College's 36-24 plate victory interesting was lifting their game against Flaxmere College who had two schoolboys in their line up.
"We had to be faster and be on top of their boys," said Wairoa captain Wreyon McCormack-Wesche after they claimed the plate bragging rights after winning the bowls one in 2017.
"It's really exciting because they have more ability than females so it pushed us to our limits," said goal attack McCormack-Wesche who shot at 83 per cent (15 goals out of 18 attempts) while goal shoot Waireti Te Amo-Tipuna backed up with 70 per cent (21/30).
"They have more elevation and extend a lot further than us females."
Wairoa won the first quarter 7-5, made an 11-5 (18-10) defensive statement in the second, conceded some ground, 7-8 (25-18), in the third spell before closing their account with an 11-6 returns to earn the right to compete at the Lower North Islands in the A grade for the first time in recent memory.
McCormack-Wesche said her team had taken their cohesiveness to a different level although coach Michelle Tahuri and assistant coach Avon McCormack had emphasised the need to move with more agility and urgency.
The Raiha Falcon-Maxwell-coached Flaxmere had GA Te Ahu Morrell, who shot at 65 per cent, and GK Waka Winitana were the constants on the court.
"It was the first time for Flaxmere to be in the plate final," said assistant coach
McCormack of the Annaleah Sullivan Sciascia-captained runners-up. "They're a beautiful side and well coached."
Flaxmere went into the plate final on account of having won nine of their 11 last outings and on goal difference in a pool involving Woodford House and Karamu High School, last year's plate finalists.
However, she said for Wairoa the challenge is a difficult one to retain enough experienced players to try to progress to the elite level although they were simply delighted to compete in the Lower North Islands.
When they embark on their journey to the capital city on Sunday it'll be a treat for a fruitful season but also farewell to daughter McCormack-Wesche, Te Amo-Tipuna, GK
Waimarie Pouwhare and WA Cassie-Marie Carroll who are year 13 pupils.
In the bowls final, Iona College defeated Taradale High School 27-21 to maintain their favouritism after topping the championship pool with three wins from as many matches, including a 26-22 victory over THS in their last outing.
THS had only lost two of their last seven games before the final, their latest in scraping past 34-28 against a higher-ranked Sacred Heart College team but it was to no avail on Tuesday.
The Kyle Halford-coached Iona, also heading for the Lower North Island competition, claimed the first quarter 9-5 before THS held their ground, 5-5 (14-10), in the second before the victors went 8-3 (22-13) up to extend the lead in the third and eased their foot on the runners-up throat with a 5-8 statement.
Iona GS Ari Wright sunk 80 per cent (16/20) while GA Grace Peterson backed with 55 per cent (11/20).
For Taradale, GA Angel Te Hiko showed the way with 74 per cent (14/19) while GS Cassidy Bartlett-Tareha had a harder time in the shooting circle for a 47 per cent returns (7-15).