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