Three times a force to fear

South Waikato News - - SPORT - By PETRICE TAR­RANT

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

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