Netball Whanganui's Covid-19-delayed Premier competition is underway with mixed results for the competition's newcomers.
The 2020 season will be run in a shortened six-team format, with one round-robin competition followed by semis and finals, all at Springvale Stadium.
The match of the opening evening on Monday featured Kaiwhaiki A1 and newcomers to the competition, Whanganui High School Old Girls, coached by former High School coach Lisa Murphy.
It was neck-and-neck throughout the game with Kaiwhaiki leading at halftime, 25-22.
The defensive efforts of both teams impressed, however the shooting combination of Tash Bullock and Sammy Murphy pushed Old Girls ahead in the second half, with Old Girls taking out the match, 51-47.
Meanwhile, newcomers Nga Tawa were welcomed back to the Premier competition with a match-up versus 2019 champions Whanganui Car Centre Kaierau A1.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Nga Tawa, as Kaierau came away with a convincing win, 100-10.
Kaierau will again be ones to watch this year, as they have strong links throughout the court and a new coaching combination of Hannah Kelly and Walter Edmonds.
The final game of the evening saw 2019 runners-up Phillips Electrical Whanganui High School take on Thompson Plumbing Kaierau A2.
Kaierau A2 put up a good fight for the whole 60 minutes, but they struggled to break through the defensive combination of Maggie Jones and Molly Bullock.
At the other end of the court, goal shoot Kara Adrole was too strong for her defensive partners, thanks to some accurate feeding from her midcourters.
Whanganui High School won convincingly, 63-29.
Recently appointed Netball Whanganui general manager Kate Osborne was thrilled to get the competition off the ground, after what feels like a long build-up.
"This year's premier season is short and sharp so there is no time for complacency from teams, they will need to come out and be competitive for every game," she said.
"On paper, a number of teams look to be very even, so we are going to see some great matchups over the next few weeks, making it a really exciting competition."
Osborne has been involved in netball for several years as a former committee member and president of Kaierau Netball Club.
She has an accounting and banking background and saw an opportunity for a new challenge.
"I am passionate about netball and want to see the sport grow in our region. Now the season is up and running, priorities are securing funding to improve facilities at Laird Park, along with appointing a Game Development Officer to deliver programmes to our members."
This season has seen a few changes to the netball programme with all Future Ferns held after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays, along with intermediate netball on Thursday evenings.
"These changes allow kids to participate in netball, who may not have been able to in the past, due to weekend family commitments. Feedback on the change has been positive and our participation numbers are looking really strong this season," Osborne said.
On Saturday, the annual Open Day Tournament was held with more than 50 teams competing. Whanganui Collegiate School A won the Premier Two title over Whanganui Girls' College A, with a 29-9 result.
This Saturday, a round of grading games for all club and secondary teams will be held, with competition proper starting on Saturday, August 8.
On Monday, August 3, round two of Premier One will see some interesting matches with Kaiwhaiki set to play Whanganui High School and Kaierau A1 versus WHS Old Girls.
*Visit https://www.sporty.co.nz/netballwhanganui for all draws and results.