Whakarewarewa Red have put the cherry on top of an impressive season, winning the Premier 1 netball final 46-42 over Ngongotahā Thunder.

Whaka announced themselves as favourites at the beginning of the season when they won the Banner round. They remained unbeaten all the way through to claim the Premier 1 Championship title.

Whaka co-coach Jaylene Tamati said her side had to fight off a staunch challenge from their rivals in the final.

"Ngongotahā brought a pretty fierce game to the court yesterday but we're happy with the win and we're happy with how our girls played. We're pretty happy with how our season went.

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"I think our shooters shot really well and I think the changes that [co-coach Hemi McKinney] and I put out on court during the game worked for us. Our defence played really well too."

None of the build-up play is worth anything if you don't have the players in the shooting circle to capitalise. Tamati said shooter Tawari Vercoe, who was named player of the day in the final, was a standout all season.

Whakarewarewa Red and Ngongotahā Thunder players compete for the ball during the Premier 1 final. Photo / Stephen Parker
Whakarewarewa Red and Ngongotahā Thunder players compete for the ball during the Premier 1 final. Photo / Stephen Parker

"She's had a few games this season where she's shot 100 per cent. Yesterday, sure she missed a couple but her accuracy throughout the whole season has been really consistent."

Even after an unbeaten season, Whaka were looking at how they can improve next year.

"Obviously, we're happy with the win of course but we have a lot to go back and reflect on for next year. It's about the quality of the game at the end of the day, the quality of netball we're putting out there."

Ngongotahā director of netball Kim Watson said that going into the game, her players knew they had "a big hill to climb".

"A couple of our key players were out but they carried on and they did their best. The week before we came very close and yesterday was close too. Both teams played well and it could've gone either way."

Whakarewarewa's Puarita Jennings leaps for the ball. Photo / Stephen Parker
Whakarewarewa's Puarita Jennings leaps for the ball. Photo / Stephen Parker

Last season, the Thunder played in an indoor competition and Watson said the goal coming back to the Saturday outdoor competition was to get back into Premier 1, which they achieved.

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"We'd been out for a couple of years but they did really well to finish in the top two and I think all the teams in that Premier 1 grade were winners in the end.

"They would've enjoyed playing outdoor again but I needed to get a Ngongotahā presence back in the Saturday outdoor competition. I knew it was going to be hard, they've all got kids who play other sports and fulltime jobs - I'm sure there are a lot of teams in the local comp who have the same story.

"It's all about rebuilding, getting the Ngongotahā name back into the local competition and also supporting Rotorua Netball."

She expected making the final to be a good motivator for the side going into 2020.

"We'll grow from this."

Rotorua Senior Netball Placings

Premier 1:

1st Whaka Red, 2nd Ngongotahā Thunder, 3rd RGHS Prem 1, 4th Waikite Panthers, 5th Pikiao Warriors, 6th Murupara Stingers.

Premier 2: 1st Kahukura Red, 2nd Kahukura White, 3rd Lakez, 4th Eastside Gurls, 5th Ngongotahā On Call, 6th Marist Trail Blazers.

Premier 3: 1st Reporoa Rangers, 2nd Manawatahi Toiohi, 3rd Manawatahi Black, 4th Marist Storm, 5th Pikiao Raiders, 6th Ngongotahā Hapori.

Senior A: 1st PK Stingers, 2nd Kahukura Tri Colours, 3rd Waikite Flamez, 4th Kahukura Blue, 5th The Chix, 6th Tuhoe.

A Grade: 1st Ngongotahā Huia, 2nd Ngongotahā League, 3rd Eastside Gurls 2, 4th Marist Strikers, 5th Fordlands, 6th Marist Astro.

A Reserve: 1st Ngongotahā Social, 2nd Ngongotahā Mareikura, 3rd Manuwatahi Green, 4th Waikite Social, 5th Marist Misfits, 6th Marist Souls.