The final preliminary round of premier netball threw up some interesting tussles.
Huanui Silver took on Wahine Toa and as the bottom-ranked pair, this was a crucial game for both teams. The winners cement their position in the grade, whereas the losers will face relegation against the top-ranked team from the premier reserve grade next week.
With a different starting line-up Huanui were fast out of the block giving them a strong, confident start for the game and led 21-13 at the first break.
Both Asa Morrison at centre and Greer Manderson at wing attack drove strongly through court and feeding their shooters great ball.
As Huanui were still ahead at half time, several changes were made.
Emerina Marsh-Kiro going into centre added speed through court and was able to apply pressure on the Wahine Toa feeders around the circle edge, giving Zahna Campbell at goal keep and Lucy Greig at goal defence intercept opportunities.
Although Huanui were ahead each quarter, the last was definitely a close affair.
Wahine Toa, producing a number of strong plays and conversions, slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Their defence combination of Pae Tipene-Komene at goal keep and Eyvette Branson worked harder, creating opposition errors.
With the match almost up Wahine scored some quick goals to level the scores. But with 30 seconds of the game left Huanui slotted in two more, clinching their win 56-54.
Positioned in the middle of the grade were Whangarei Girls High School Senior 1 (WGHS) and Whangaruru.
It was a hard-fought game for WGHS from the start because Whangaruru contested every ball. It took some time for the young team to settle and they scored only seven goals by the end of the first break.
But a slow second quarter for Whangaruru enabled WGHS to come back strongly. The defence combination of goal keep Ricco Niha and goal defence Jessie Taylor picked up some loose ball and were rewarded by shooters Leihana Shelford-Tito and Saphire Connelly-Parry, only to be down 23-26 at half time.
Arerina Ihaka had another outstanding defensive game, picking up several tips and intercepts around the WGHS shooting circle.
Whangaruru took out the game 56-42.
Manawanui White and Body Trainer Fideliter 1 battled in a top-of-the-table clash.
With four goals the difference to Fideliter for the first two quarters, it was obvious some changes had to be made.
Fideliter changes were definitely on point as they went into another gear with player of the day Rowena Davis-Cooper going from goal attack to goal shoot, having an outstandingly solid shooting game, with the support of Arona Tipene at goal attack.
Fideliter finished with a comprehensive 58-46 victory.