All you can do in trying to win a competition is to keep beating opponents but the prudent will tell you it makes the job easier when rivals play their part as well.
With all the talk about Otane Thirsty Whale making a move, one can be excused for overlooking the Hastings High School Old Girls' Proactive Huia's dossier in the Karamu Holden Super 8 netball competition in Hawke's Bay last Friday.
Undefeated Otane have scaled to the top of the Championship ladder after round six of matches but it was Huia who relegated shield champions All In Tremains Elusive from the top rung.
"We had to win otherwise our semifinal chances would have been very slim so it was pretty much a must-win game for us," said Huia coach Rebecca Martin after her side pipped All In 48-46, fighting tooth and nail to claim the second (12-8) and third quarters (15-10), respectively, after staying in touch in the first (12-14) and losing the final fling (9-14).
It was a crucial victory for Martin's troops because they should secure a semifinal berth with one round to play against Toki Mana this Friday, after opening a four-point gulf on fifth-placed Outkast Optimise Physio on 12 points.
All In goal shoot Pania Rowe was outstanding with 100 per cent (34 goals) but Huia counterpart Judy Brown nailed 88 per cent (36 from 41 attempts) with 67 per cent support from GA Hannah O'Keefe (12/18).
Martin gave a pass mark to the entire team, who also had beaten All In during the shield campaign, for fulfilling their portfolios although she named goal keep Tee Aiulopotea her player of the match.
"Everyone had a job to do and, for the majority of the game, stuck to the game plan and it paid off but, certainly, Tee, made a lot of intercepts and things from a whole team defence perspective."
Martin said Huia had started strongly, surging 5-1 up in the first quarter but the injuries and illnesses meant she had to shuffle her pack, thus the yo-yo nature of the quarters.
"We play our whole team so the players who come can also do the job, too," she said.
Otane were too strong for Outkast, grinding them down 42-25 in claiming every quarter — 15-9, 9-6, 9-5, 10-6.
GS Sarona Fruean and GA Melissa Te Huki had a field day with 83 per cent (24-29) and 72 (18-25), respectively, for a team 78 per cent returns compared with Outkast's 58. For Outkast, GS Ema Harris-Rowlands turned up to the party with a 75 per cent offering but Shevanna Sullivan (42 per cent) and Rahia Falcon-Maxwell (29) weren't ready to foxtrot in the GA bib. They were missing the prowess of Rakei Sa'ena (best shooting percentage of 89, one above Rowe).
All In and Otane face each other next but, while a playoffs berth isn't an issue, the sides will be mindful of dragging Big Mo to their corner with a win.
Defending champions Napier Girls' High School Senior A consolidated their third place on the table with a hard-fought 56-50 win over seventh-placed Havelock North House of Travel Kauri.
The schoolgirls claimed the first two quarters — 16-10, 15-10 — before Kauri won the third 15-10 but could only manage a 15-all statement in the final spell.
NGHS skipper Janayah Lewis shot at 84 per cent (36/43) in swapping the GA/GS bibs with backing from Caitlin Smith at 68 per cent (15/22) for a collective 78 per cent shooting.
Kauri are out of the playoffs but NGHS will be mindful of Outkast who have a sniffing chance but will expect Toki Mana to do the unthinkable against Huia although the goal differential is heavily in favour of the schoolgirls in the event of two unlikely losses.
Kauri GS Tania Laking (402 goals) showed why she is behind leader Rowe (483) in the race to find the Super Shooters with an 82 per cent (36/44) serving on Friday.
Central Sports Vet Services, disappointingly failing to fire this winter in the championship format, claimed their first victory when they overwhelmed newcomers Toki Mana 52-33.
They predictably clinched every quarter — 14-7, 11-9 (25-16), 15-9 (40-25), 12-8 — but it's too little, too late for them to make the playoffs as the sixth-placed strugglers face Kauri, also on one win, on Friday for what should be a good battle.
Central GS Georgina Campbell (31/40) and GA Kirby Beach (21/32) combined for 72 per cent team shooting although Toki Mana GS Mele Leutele claim the match-high stat of 89 per cent (25/28) for a collective 80 per cent, suggesting they needed to lift their tempo in other parts of the court to claim their first points.
All teams will have playoff matches to determine the final eight standings in a fortnight.
RD 6 DETAILS
Huia bt All In 48-46, Otane bt Outkast 42-25, Central bt Toki Mana 52-33, NGHS bt Kauri 56-50.
Standings: Otane 22pts, All In 20, NGHS 18, Huia 16, Outkast 12, Central 4, Kauri 4, Toki Mana 0.
Rd 7 draws:
For the final round of the championship format at the PG Arena, Taradale, this Friday:
6pm: All In v Otane, PG2; Huia v Toki Mana, PG1.
7.30pm: Central v Kauri, PG1; NGHS v Outkast PG2.