Manawanui White put on an impressive display of speed and execution in their 20-point win over Naumai in Northland's premier netball competition on Friday.
Wearing pink bibs, in honour of Pink Shirt Day, Manawanui were clinical and efficient in their 69-49 dismantling of their Dargaville/Ruawai-based opponents at ASB Stadium.
Manawanui's mid court proved the difference as they bossed the central third.
With the connections between their mid-court and shooters already functioning well, Manawanui will be a hard side to stop as the team's combinations grow stronger. Naumai's progress through the court was very lateral at times, thanks to great defence and structure from their opposition.
However, playing the game at such a high speed did hurt Manawanui at times. With Naumai matching their pace at the start of the second quarter, mistakes started to come from Manawanui's play.
But it was the consistency of Manawanui's skill and execution which saw them develop a healthy lead through the game and ensured Naumai were held at arms length throughout.
"I thought there was lots of fair contesting, Naumai provided some really dynamic mid-court work getting the ball through but I thought our defensive end was really strong," Manawanui manager Mo Matautia-Tepania said.
"Our shooters must have been shooting at over 80 per cent so they did well also."
Matautia-Tepania said the team had worked hard on using the pockets, driving into free spaces and offering options. It was these tactics which enabled Manawanui to play at such a pace and with such accuracy.
"We'd like to improve our circle-edge feeding but definitely our connections did work for us and I think the score reflects that," she said.
"We'll go back to training and work on how we can overcome some of the errors we made so that's something we'll definitely work at."
This season is Naumai's first in the Whangārei competition after they won both the Dargaville and Rodney competitions last year. Coach Maree Langdon said the fresh-faced group had to test themselves against more talented teams.
"It was a good challenge for our girls and we knew this one was going to be hard," she said.
"Credit to the girls, but they've just got to come together a bit more as a team and find those connections with each other."
Regarding their loss to Manawanui, Langdon said her team could play a lot better than Friday's performance, which contained a number of unforced errors coming up against a classy side.
"We totally did it to ourselves but Manawanui were just the better team, they are a polished team who have got those links and that's going to be hard for us.
"[Manawanui] are a top side, I think they are going to be hard to beat this season, I'd peg them definitely to be in the final.
With five of their frontline players missing due to injury and travel issues, Langdon said they needed to work on finding the right option and not wasting possession.
"In the game, they tried to get rid of the ball too quickly, they've got three seconds with it so they just need to stop and make a good decision."
In the round's other games, Whangārei Girls' High School edged out a nail-biting win over Whangaruru, 54-50.
With a strong lead after the first quarter, the school team was pulled back to within a few goals over the next two quarters before just easing away at the final whistle.
The Bubz claimed their second win of the competition with a convincing 67-37 victory over Wahine Toa.