Tokomaru first team into premier final
Tokomaru booked a spot in the Marlborough premier netball final on Tuesday evening with a 62-51 semifinal victory over Marlborough Girls’ College.
Although the Picton side held a comfortable margin of victory at the final whistle, the students were highly competitive, at least for three quarters of the game.
MGCwill look back to the second quarter of an enthralling encounter and grimace. Leading by a single goal after an inspired first 15 minutes the students fell off their game in alarming fashion, allowing their rivals to forge an eight goal lead, an advantage they never relinquished.
MGCrallied to hold Toko to a three-goal margin in the third, then drew the final stanza, but the damage had well and truly been done.
The Picton-based club had been given a timely wake-up call by Harlequins last week and underlined their championship credentials with a strong all-court display.
After a nervy, tentative first quarter, with both sides intent on feeling each other out, Toko found their attacking rhythm in the second stanza. This, coupled with a lift in defensive intensity, allowed them to put up 20 shots compared with their rivals’ 12.
Having experienced, quality players such as Jess Prosser and Gemma Hika under the hoop meant 17 were converted and suddenly the score began to blow out.
MGCalso had a class act in the attacking circle, the reliable Malia Manoa shooting at 93 percent, but she was forced to live off scraps as Toko dominated possession.
Their energetic midcourt of Tash Ford, Laura Murphy and Hana Wilson hassled MGCinto errors and, when they got their hands on the ball, displayed clever passing variation and vision to get the ball into their shooters.
At the back, goal keep Holly Bonnington and Tristian Taylor snapped up any loose ball and did their best to deny Manoa and fellow shooter McKynlee Breen space under the hoop. The extra spring generated by the athletic Taylor has become a weapon on defence, his elevation and timing often catching careless passers out.
The college side, who are off to the South Island Secondary Schools championships in Christchurch next week, gave their all.
In the early stages they showed patience with ball in hand that they would not have mustered in the early stages of the season. Coach Bek Galloway trying some tactical switches, but with her side playing catch-up from the early stages, they were left relying on their opponents to get careless and Toko were too experienced for that.
Outstanding in defence for MGCwas Cerys James-Sitters. The young goal keep gave her taller and more seasoned opponents no quarter in the circle, aggressively contesting possession alongside Etelini Manoa, who also showed her class. Wing defence Hannah Dickson is another college player who, along with fellow middie Ella Donald, has improved as the season has progressed, offering optimism for their SI title bid.
Tokomaru will take confidence from their victory over a dangerous opponent. They still have plenty of room for improvement and will watch next Tuesday’s second semifinal between Harlequins Radich Law and SMOG HR Construction with great interest, having got their title tilt back on track after a slight hiccup last week.
Prosser, such an integral figure in Toko’s attacking end, said last week’s loss was ‘‘a good eye-opener’’.
‘‘To lose that game against [Harlequins] was what we needed. We re-focused tonight on what we had to work on.’’
The final is set down for Sunday, September 10.
‘‘To lose that game against [Harlequins] was what we needed. We refocused tonight on what we had to work on.’’
Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton 62 (Jess Prosser 45/51, Gemma Hika 17/23) Marlborough Girls’ College NZ King Salmon 51 (Malia Manoa 42/45, McKynlee Breen 9/17). Quarter scores (Tokomaru first): 13-14, 17-8, 15-12, 17-17
Intermediate Premier Cup. Bohally Senior A 28 Queen Charlotte College Warriors 10. Quarter scores (Bohally first): 9-3, 9-1, 5-4, 5-2.
Tokomaru wing attack Laura Murphy on attack during the premier grade semifinal against Marlborough Girls’ College on Tuesday evening.