Norths clinch netball crown

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

North­ern United won their sec­ond Kapi Mana premier netball ti­tle on the trot on Satur­day, but they did it the hard way.

The Porirua pow­er­house over­came Te Tai Timu 37- 36 in a pul­sat­ing fi­nal at the Mun­gavin courts to re­main un­beaten through­out this sea­son.

Norths notched up a six-point lead after the first quar­ter, but Te Tai Timu, newly pro­moted to the premier grade this year, ruled the mid­dle part of the match and led by five in the last quar­ter.

Norths’ mix of young stars and ex­pe­ri­enced heads whit­tled back the deficit to snatch the vic­tory.

Te Tai Timu had the chance to take it into ex­tra time with a shot at the death, but missed.

Norths coach Ngahiwi Meroiti said it was a fit­ting fi­nal, fun for the spec­ta­tors, but ‘‘stress city’’ for the coaches.

‘‘We came out well early, but Te Tai Timu made some changes after that first quar­ter and we didn’t adapt,’’ she said. ‘‘They [Te Tai Timu] are an ex­cel­lent team, full of ex­pe­ri­ence and rep play­ers and fully de­serve to be in the premier com­pe­ti­tion.’’

The pro­moted side con­tained play­ers from dif­fer­ent clubs who came to­gether to form their own team at the start of this sea­son. They had to start in premier 2, but eas­ily made their way into the top grade, Meroiti said.

Her team had to dig very deep in the fi­nal, Meroiti said, and their prepa­ra­tion wasn’t the best.

Sev­eral of her play­ers were on duty at the Lower North Is­land sec­ondary schools tour­na­ment, mean­ing Norths went into the fi­nal with not much train­ing to­gether last week.

‘‘It took us a while to get our game on track, but we’re fit and fast and have that ex­pe­ri­ence at the top level right through our team. There’s good struc­ture and a solid game plan.’’

Meroiti sin­gled out her young shoot­ers, Colleen Faleafaga and Jer­maine Howard- Val­lance, as sym­bols of her side’s suc­cess.

They were ex­am­ples of net­ballers who turned out for their Wellington school sides and earned rep­re­sen­ta­tive hon­ours, but were loyal to their Porirua club, she said.

It was a bonus they were play­ing for Norths and it strength­ened the Kapi Mana com­pe­ti­tion, Meroiti said.

Rockz and KBJ had won re­cent premier ti­tles and it was a good thing for the trophy to be shared around, she said.

Tawa and Aotea col­leges de­served their places at the premier ta­ble and would likely be back to push the other sides hard next sea­son, Meroiti said.

The Norths play­ers were un­der­stand­ably ju­bi­lant at the fi­nal whis­tle.

‘‘They play ex­cit­ing netball, but are a hum­ble bunch. I would have been dis­ap­pointed to lose the fi­nal after the year we’ve had, so to win was just an awe­some feel­ing.’’

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Lead­ing the way: Norths goal at­tack Eunique Ki­tiseni looks to feed the ball into the cir­cle against Te Tai Timu.

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