Kereru make premier final
Technical will face Kereru in the Christchurch Netball premier championship final.
The defending champions hard fought win over Lincoln University (LU) at the Bishopdale YMCA on Tuesday night puts Kereru firmly back on track to defend its premier crown next week. A strong start to the decisive fourth quarter gave Kereru the edge over LU as they went on to win 54-51.
They looked to be cruising towards a second straight unbeaten season with some impressive results this year. But a draw against LU and loss to Technical in the past two weeks was a ‘‘wake-up’’ which coach Riki Clark said his charges needed.
‘‘It’s been a hard few weeks but I think we’ve learned so much more over the past two weeks,’’ Clark said.
‘‘There were a lot of tears last week and the biggest thing we learned was just how much we want to win this.’’
He will be sweating on the fitness of captain Kereana Harris and goal attack Claudia Lewis who were both missing from the sudden death play-off against LU. Harris has a calf strain and is doubtful for the final while Lewis was diagnosed with scarlet fever and may also struggle to make the last game of the season.
Young goal attack Tyler Rollo stood up in the absence of Lewis and used her speed to great effect in the first half while missing just two attempts at goal.
There was little between the two teams with Kereru the first to make a break and lead 30-27 at halftime.
They extended its buffer to five goals before LU, on the back of some accurate feeding from centre Kate Grant and shooting from both Ellie Bird and Bella James, levelled the scores at 42-all with one quarter to play.
But Kereru netted five straight goals when the pressure tightened early in the fourth spell to give them the winning edge.
‘‘I think we showed plenty of heart out there and that got us across the line,’’ Clark said.
‘‘And it’s going to take more heart to take that final step.’’
Meanwhile, Kereru’s B team also reached the final two after beating St Margaret’s College 54-30 in the premier 2 semi-final.
Kereru 54 (Julianna Naoupu 32/37, Tyler Rollo 18/21, Erin McDuff 4/5) beat Lincoln University 51 (Ellie Bird 39/45, Bella James 12/13).