The fifth and final week of the first round (two pools of six teams) of the Trust Waikato Hamilton City indoor premier netball competition saw several close and competitive games, as expected; however, there were some surprise results.
The closest game was between St Peters Premier and Allied HOB Premier, which ended in a draw.
This was the proverbial game of two halves with Allied HOB Premier winning the first half and St Peters Premier winning the second.
At the end of the first quarter, Allied HOB Premier led 9-7 and by half time they were up, 21-11.
St Peters Premier were still trailing at the end of the third quarter but had narrowed the gap to 27-23.
The final quarter was a nail-biter with St Peters Premier continuing to close the gap but not quite doing enough to take the win. The final score was 33-all.
For St Peters Premier it was a composed start in the first quarter but, in the second, they drifted away from the game plan, letting the opposition push out to a good lead.
Tenacious team defence put the pressure on, creating errors that helped St Peters Premier claw their way back into contention.
Turnover ball by the defensive unit of Savannah Samson-Tuinukuafe at goal keep, Monica Faumui at goal keep and goal defence, Lucy Sidwell at goal defence and wing defence and Reeghan de Bono at wing defence, goal defence and centre was crucial.
Allied HOB Premier, as a new team in this competition, showed their progress and fighting spirit. Trying new combinations in this game paid dividends for them.
Moving Victoria Simeon from goal shoot to goal keep and combining her with Luana Wickliffe at goal defence added height and experience in the circle and they put pressure on the St Peters shooters.
Mihirangi Wickliffe, mainly at goal attack, and Dani McCloy, mainly at goal shoot proved to be a formidable shooting combination with good feeding from their midcourt players. A great game with a lot at stake for both teams.
University of Waikato Premier vs Castle Rangers
The other close and competitive game was that between University of Waikato Premier and Nottingham Castle Rangers.
Castle Rangers started well to lead 12-7 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was almost goal for goal with the score being 22-18.
University Premier had a strong third quarter to bring the score to 33-all. The final quarter was again goal for goal, but Castle Rangers were able to edge ahead and they won 42-40.
The game could have gone either way. For Castle Rangers, they got off to a strong start with some excellent ball from the mid-court players in to the shooters.
Demi Moana at goal shoot and Emily Ussher at goal attack presented strongly and both shot confidently and accurately.
It was pleasing that the team were able to adjust when the opposition came back after the first quarter and the momentum and intensity shifted.
On attack, the team held their composure and the whole team worked incredibly hard defensively to create pressure and force mistakes.
With Castle Rangers performing well the University Premier team had their work cut out for them.
The return of University stalwart Ngawai Hawera at wing attack and centre brought an experienced and calm head to the game, resulting in University taking the lead early in the final quarter.
A few critical errors provided the opposition with the opportunity to take the win.
Waikato Dio Open A vs University of Waikato Prem Reserve
Waikato Diocesan Open A and University of Waikato Premier Reserve also had a keenly-contested game.
Waikato Diocesan had a narrow lead at the end of the first quarter at 10-7 but had a great second quarter to lead by 22 goals to 10 at halftime.
University Premier Reserve had a great third and final quarter to reduce the deficit.
At three-quarter time, the score was 31-22 and the final score was 39-34. A great game between these two teams with Waikato Diocesan happy to have their first win.
Waikato Diocesan played with greater consistency and minimised their errors. On defence, they were relentless and, on attack, they were composed.
Aylee Gane at goal defence was a standout, picking up numerous intercepts as well as acting as a major ball carrier through court.
Grace Wilson on at goal shoot in the second half also had an outstanding game.
Wilson was a strong target and opened up space in the circle for Alice Wilkinson at goal attack.
For University Premier Reserve, it was a massive effort to come back from being well behind to only lose by five goals.
Unfortunately, the team made a lot of basic errors in the first half that were costly but all credit to the team to get on top of this in the second half.
The shooters were solid when they got the ball and Caitlin Judd at wing defence played an excellent game.
The other games were also good to watch. Verdettes Marist Old Girls and FTNC Premier was another great game.
FTNC Premier led from start to finish although the second and third quarters were close, the damage was done in the first quarter with FTNC Premier having a six-goal lead.
At halftime, the score was 20-13 and the final score was 36 goals to 24. An exciting and strongly contested game to watch but a great result for the FTNC Premier team who are playing some good netball.
Marist Old Girls will be disappointed the score was not closer. The physical intensity of the game is not reflected in the score.
Hamilton Girls High School Langman also had a great game against Iwi Karearea Premier and again there was little in it at the end of the first quarter with just three goals the difference.
At halftime, HGHS Langman led by 23-18. They then dominated in the third quarter, strengthening their lead with the final quarter again quite close.
The final score was 41-27. Another good game to watch with a great performance by the school side.
In the final game, FTNC Premier Reserve were too strong for Morrinsville Open A. FTNC started strong and at halftime, they led 25-14.
Morrinsville had a close second quarter with just two goals the difference but could not sustain this for the duration of the game. The final score was 49-20. A good solid performance by FTNC Premier Reserve.
At the end of the round, pool 1 results were: Nottingham Castle Rangers, University of Waikato Premier, HGHS Langman, Iwi Karearea Premier, FTNC Premier Reserve and Morrinsville Open A.
Pool 2 results were: FTNC Premier, Verdettes Marist Old Girls, St Peters Premier, Allied HOB Premier, Waikato Diocesan Open A and University of Waikato Premier Reserve. The top three teams in each pool will now play a round of 5 weeks before playoffs.
Indoor Premier Results
FTNC Premier Reserve 49 vs Morrinsville Open A 20
Hamilton Girls High School Langman 41 vs Iwi Karearea Premier 27
St Peters Premier 33 vs Allied HOB Premier 33
Verdettes Marist Old Girls 24 vs FTNC Premier 36
University of Waikato Premier Reserve 34 vs Waikato Diocesan Open A 39
University of Waikato Premier 40 vs Nottingham Castle Rangers 42