Three times a force to fear
A final netball blowout against Eagles saw Tokoroa’s reigning netball champions United Force take home their second hat-trick in the Bill Gray Memorial Championship alongside a perfect season.
The relatively convincing 51-39 scoreline was no measure of the fight that the experienced Eagles side put up, but in the end it was a game of execution that Force won.
It was a messy match with errors on both ends sending the ball backwards and forwards far too often.
Eagles attackers Sami Kaitai, GA, and Roka Pahewa were a deceivingly quick combo, playing the ball into the circle nicely but missed opportunities under the hoop were quickly snatched up by Force’s talented defence duo. GK Nicola Ratima was phenomenal on the rebounds backed up by Juanita Shadrock, GD and Chanelle Rata, WD, who read the Eagles’ play beautifully.
Force’s attacking side struggled to find their rhythm early on. The typically strong unit fell short under the pressure of Eagles defence, particularly in ball placement and shooter positioning. Wingers Leleina Tolovae and Petrice Tarrant struggled to connect the ball with the shooters, making it a tiring first quarter.
But with a bit of patience the side finally started slotting the points to take a 10-point lead at half time.
Coach Taneta Riki was impressed with how the attackers coped.
‘‘We didn’t panic even though there was a struggle . . . that’s hard for any team,’’ she said.
The second half was more forgiving to Eagles on the scoreboard but looked a lot cleaner for Force attackers. Shooters Nancy-Jo Tahere and Te Paea Riki-Pahewa found space in the circle and a few crisp passages saw the side gain momentum. Riki said the season was a success. ‘‘The whole year was about being supportive of each other physically, mentally and especially the mannerisms on the court and that’s what the side controlled well the whole season.’’
Three-peat: United Force take out their second hat-trick