It was third time lucky for Otane Netball Thirsty Whale as they finally beat Napier Girls' High School Senior A to claim this year's Super 8 netball championship.
The 2020 champions, who had lost to the Napier Girls' side in the last two finals, won 44-39 at the Pettigrew Green Arena on Friday night.
Otane head coach Annemarie Kupa, who had guided NGHS to victory in 2018 and 2019, made it three Super 8 wins in three years.
Kupa said both sides showed high levels of skill, but she knew her team always had a chance against her former side.
"I knew that, if our girls played to their own game plan, we were going to come away with the win," she said.
The 43-year-old, who has been part of the Otane set up for 17 years, was impressed with both teams' defensive performances.
Otane captain Briar Chalmers said the win was a "full team effort".
"To finally get one over on Napier was pretty satisfying. We were really stoked with the final result," she said.
Millie Ironside's shooting performance at goal attack was instrumental in Otane's clinical win, converting 36 from 39 attempts.
The team had an overall scoring percentage of 90 per cent compared with NGHS' 67 per cent.
Napier head coach Charrisa Barham admitted it was too little, too late for young back-up shooter Braxton Gallagher to outshoot Otane before the clock ran out.
"We were in it up until the fourth quarter, when I brought on 14-year-old Braxton," she said.
"Maybe I should've done it earlier to get more momentum, as she came on and lifted the girls at the end."
"I'm gutted, but proud," Barham added.
In Friday night's third-place playoff All In Tremains Elusive beat Hastings High School Old Girls BM Accounting Huia 45-32 - automatically qualifying All In for next year's Super 8 competition.
Outkast Sports Optimise Physio secured fifth place in the competition with a 46-35 win over Central Sports Netball Club Vet Services.
Due to Covid level 2 restrictions, only 24 spectators were allowed at Friday's final – one for each player.
Hawke's Bay Netball general manager Tina Arlidge said it was great to have supporters back on the sidelines.
"We were unable to hand out an MVP this year as the judge wasn't allowed in, due to the restrictions," she said.