The Kaiwhaiki A1 squad with their Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau allies had a strong start representing Whanganui on Day 1 of the Netball Central Zone 'Super Club' tournament at the ASB Sport Centre in Wellington on Saturday.
Kaiwhaiki, who stunned defending champions Kaierau with a extra time win in the Netball Whanganui Premier 1 championship final three weeks ago, were representing the region for the first time in the Super Club tournament, which involves the champion Premier teams from around Central Zone.
As underdogs in their club final, Kaiwhaiki carried only nine players for most of their club season, with only eight able to travel to the Sports Centre in the Kilbirnie suburb.
Therefore, Kaiwhaiki president Parekura Muraahi said they took advantage of the Super Club's "composite rule" which allows them to borrow players from one other club team within their centre.
Kaierau's Te Reo Paki, Sarah Teki-Clark and Karaihi Peina therefore joined Kaiwhaiki to play in a tournament they probably figured they were going to be involved with anyway, before the events of August 26.
Playing shortened matches with quick turnarounds on Saturday, Kaiwhaiki lost first up to Tysons East 37-21 at 10am, but recovered to beat Kaiwhaiki Celtic United 37-17 at 12pm, before upsetting recent Lower North Island Secondary School champions Manukura 39-38 in a thriller at 1pm.
However, Manukura still topped the pool and Kaiwhaiki were tied for second with Tysons East, who got to advance to the second tier of playoffs because of winning the game between the sides.
Kaiwhaiki therefore entered the 9th-13th playoffs on Sunday, but were said to be undeterred.
Head coach Te Rina Peina was impressed with her team stepping up to the higher level of game play, physicality and officiating.
"Wow, what a day.
"Took us a game to find our connection with our newbies but when we found our groove we played amazing netball with great composure and continued to have fun like we have all season.
"The importance of using our bench pulled us through the day to keep a high level of intensity for the duration of our games."