Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau A1 and Phillips Electrical Whanganui High School A1 travelled vastly different paths in their journey to the Netball Whanganui Premier A1 finals.
Both teams won their semifinals on Monday night to make the finals next week, although Kaierau A1 had to fight hard to get up by one point over defending champions Kaiwhaiki A1.
In the other semifinal WHS breezed through with a seemingly effortless 60-37 victory over competition newcomers Kaierau A2.
Kaierau A1's 48-47 win over Kaiwhaiki by contrast was intense.
Kaierau A1 coach Walter Edmonds said the close encounter was stressful sideline, but the relief at the final whistle was worth the agony.
"It was a very intense game and probably one of the best preps we could have had leading into a final," Edmonds said.
"Were were up by eight points at one stage early and then 24-21 at half time, it was giving us heart attacks on the sideline. The girls fought really solidly and it was our defensive game that won it for us in the end. In the final quarter we were down by four and had to fight hard to regain the lead at the end. Our defence kicked in at critical times, especially in that last quarter winning good rebound ball.
"I think it was lucky we had a hard game against WHS last week too, that will help immensely going into the final next week," Edmonds said.
Meanwhile, WHS remained unbeaten in the Whanganui competition and was always in control against Kaierau A2 chalking up a 33-18 buffer at halftime.
"We were always in control and the girls played very well and I was able to give everyone a run on court," coach Lisa Murphy said.
"I was particularly pleased to have Sophie Andrews back after a long spell out with concussion. Sophie probably only had about three games for us at the start of the season, so it was great to have her back in defence."
Andrews is a strong player in any of the GD, GK or WD bibs and gives Murphy options come finals time.
While Monday was a relatively easy path into the Whanganui competition final, WHS had its first loss of the season in the Manawatu Secondary School Saturday competition last weekend.
"Palmerston North Girls High beat us by one point on Saturday in a real up and down game. We had the lead in the last quarter, but they fought back for the win and that's probably worked in our favour. This weekend we have another tough test against Manukura Black in a Top Four match. It's a must-win game for us to progress in the Manawatu comp and a game that will test us in the lead up to next Monday Whanganui final against Kaierau A1 - they will not be easy," Murphy said.
TheWhanganui final will be played at 7.45pm on Monday next week, while the playoff for third and fourth between Kaierau A2 and Kaiwhaiki is set down for 6pm.