After a brilliant start on debut at the national secondary schools netball tournament in Nelson, Phillips Electrical Whanganui High School were snapped back to reality to finish 12th of the 16 teams.

Fresh from winning the Manawatu secondary schools title and runners-up in the Netball Whanganui premier division, the Lisa Murphy-coached side opened the national tourney with a clinical 35-26 win over Ashburton College before going in to a tail spin with a 42-27 loss to Epsom Girls' Grammar, a 33-19 beating from upper North Island champs St Kentigern's College, a narrow 31-29 loss to Samuel Marsden College and an agonising on- point loss to St Margaret's College (40-39).

WHS bounced back in a late Thursday game with St Hilda's Collegiate that ended with a close 32-27 victory. That put WHS into a playoff for 11th and 12th against St Mary's College yesterday morning that ended in another close finish. St Mary's won 43-36.

Murphy said she was proud of the way her girls performed and how well they handled themselves throughout the tournament.

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"The girls played well in what was a step up to a new level from what they were used to," Murphy said.

"I was proud of the way they handled the losses, although some of those games were close against strong sides. At this level the pace is quicker, the girls are taller and very athletic and games are physical. To finish 12 on debut is good. Now we know what is required and the girls will have benefitted hugely from the experience."