The first week of the delayed Trust Waikato Hamilton City Netball Centre (TWHCNC) premier indoor competition started on June 25 with some big crowds and scores.
It was plain to see the excitement from all to be back at the courts for the local premier competition. While there were some big scores, there were also a couple of close games.
Overall, the first night following shutdown was a good test of the fitness of the players and umpires and an opportunity to see the various changes within the teams from last season.
It was also pleasing to see so many supporters at the games with everyone appreciating being able to finally participate in winter sport.
The games to watch were those between Nottingham Castle Rangers and Iwi Karearea Premier, and FTNC Premier Reserve and Hamilton Girls High School Langman. Both games were close and well contested.
The closest game was that between FTNC Premier Reserve and HGHS Langman.
HGHS Langman had a slim two-goal lead at the end of the first quarter with the score at 8 to 6. They were strong through the second and third quarters, increasing their lead to be up 17 goals to 10 at halftime and 26 goals to 14 at three-quarter time.
The final quarter was again very close with just one goal the difference, but it was all a little too late for the FTNC Premier Reserve.
The final score was 32 goals to 21.
For the HGHS Langman team it was a shaky start with first game nerves showing but they did settle well after a while.
There was some outstanding defence work by Veisinia Fakalelu at goal keep and 14-year-old Liza Ball at goal defence then goal keep, both of whom had some brilliant moments.
Amarnee Shepherd on at wing attack in the second half made an immediate impact with some beautiful touches of the ball and great defence work. For FTNC Premier Reserve they were pleased with their start and their ability to shut down the opposition, running lines and capitalising on opportunities.
Complacency going into the second quarter allowed HGHS Langman to dominate throughout the middle of the game. In the fourth quarter the team regrouped with focused determination to finish strongly.
Player of the day was Tia Kemara at wing attack where she showed consistency throughout the game providing stability and patience at the attacking end and determination on defence.
Nottingham Castle Rangers vs Iwi Karearea Premier
In the other close game, Nottingham Castle Rangers and Iwi Karearea Premier were drawn at the end of the first quarter with 9 goals apiece. By halftime Castle Rangers had pulled ahead to lead by two goals with the score being 20 goals to 18.
Castle Rangers had a dominant third quarter and final quarter leading 35 goals to 24 at the end of the third quarter and winning 46 goals to 32.
Overall, a tight and fiercely contested game that was great to watch.
For Castle Rangers they were happy to have a hard first match as unable to really practice this pressure in training games.
After a nervous start the team composed themselves and they were able to grind out a hard-fought win.
The team defensive effort created a lot of opportunities and on attack the players were patient with the ball they delivered to the shooters.
Emily Ussher in attack shifting from wing attack to goal attack was a standout and her combination with Demi Moana at goal shoot was excellent with Ussher shooting at an impressive 88 per cent.
Iwi Premier were excited to have their first game of the season and given the team was a mixture of old and new players they were looking forward to trying combinations and showing what they could do on court.
The game was a physical one and the attackers had to work hard against a strong defensive unit to get ball into the shooters.
The standout player was Te Riina Kapea at wing attack who showed precision passing and vision to get quick ball into the shooters.
Last year's winners University Premier showed no mercy despite quite a changed line-up against newly promoted Morrinsville Open A.
They played with speed, precision, and flair throughout the game.
At halftime the score was 30 to 9 and the fulltime score was 62 to 19, so overall a consistent performance by both teams. Morrinsville Open A will want to learn and grow from their experience.
Last year's runners-up Verdettes Marist Old Girls also had a good win over another new team to the competition, Allied Hamilton Old Boys (HOB) Premier, but the first quarter was very close with only one goal the difference.
By halftime Marist Old Girls had stepped it up a notch and led by 28 goals to 14 and they won by 63 goals to 28.
Allied HOB Premier should be pleased with their initial start to the game and can only build on this.
Following on from their great performance last season, St Peters Premier started well and led their game from start to finish against University of Waikato Premier Reserve.
The halftime score was 28 goals to 12 and the fulltime score was 62 goals to 19. Again, both teams have had changes in the team lineup.
FTNC Premier also showed speed and class with a great performance against Waikato Diocesan Open A.
They led by 39 to 5 at halftime and they won 68 to 12. It will be interesting to see how FTNC Premier goes against some of the other teams this season as they looked strong.
A great start to what should be another great season of netball. The season will run for 12 weeks with finals on September 10.
University of Waikato
Premier 62 vs Morrinsville Open A 19
FTNC Premier 68 vs Waikato Diocesan Open A 12
Nottingham Castle Rangers 46 vs Iwi Karearea Premier 32
St Peters Premier 62 vs University of Waikato Premier Reserve 19
Verdettes Marist Old Girls 63 vs Allied HOB Premier 28
FTNC Premier Reserve 21 vs Hamilton Girls High School Langman 32