Prices chase third con­sec­u­tive crown

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIP ROLLO

Prices coach Mandy Whit­ing said her play­ers were happy to do it the hard way.

But she is even hap­pier with the eas­ier path to the premier grade net­ball fi­nal.

The two-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons are the first team through to Satur­day’s de­cider at Sax­ton Sta­dium with Jacks and Rich­mond set to bat­tle it out to de­ter­mine the sec­ond qual­i­fier.

Prices booked their place by com­ing back from a 15-9 first quar­ter deficit to beat Jacks 51-47 in a thrilling first semi­fi­nal last week, where a 5-0 run mid­way through the fi­nal pe­riod proved de­ci­sive.

‘‘It is very ex­cit­ing and I’m ex­cited for the girls be­cause they are the ones do­ing the hard work,’’ Whit­ing said.

‘‘It was phys­i­cal out there and they stood up, where ear­lier in the sea­son they haven’t done that.’’

Prices have been forced to play the ex­tra play­off game in the past, and Whit­ing said her play­ers would not have minded re­turn­ing to Sax­ton Sta­dium on Thurs­day to play Rich­mond.

Goal shoot Mahi Selby-Law, who re­cently moved to Palmer­ston North, had even bought flights home for Thurs­day in case she was needed.

‘‘She got a job as soon as she went up there but she had the guts to ask about com­ing back, so she will be back [for the fi­nal] and even booked to come back for Thurs­day.

‘‘That’s com­mit­ment but that’s re­ally cool.’’

But the ex­tra rest could prove valu­able and it is a lux­ury Satur­day’s op­po­si­tion won’t have, the win­ner of the Jacks ver­sus Rich­mond game forced to play three games in 10 days.

‘‘We’ve done it both ways [in the past],’’ Whit­ing said. ‘‘Our ad­van­tage is that we have some older play­ers and some car­ry­ing in­juries, so it gives them that ex­tra rest pe­riod.’’

Many of the Prices squad have been in­volved in the past two cham­pi­onship-win­ning cam­paigns, in­clud­ing Whit­ing her­self. She said they were de­ter­mined to add ‘‘one more’’ ti­tle.

In other re­sults from last week, Stoke’s 44-40 loss to Rich­mond means they have fin­ished fourth, with Nel­son Col­lege for Girls beat­ing Waimea Col­lege 65-48 to se­cure fifth.

PHILLIP ROLLO/THE LEADER

Prices mid­courter Natalie Full­man in ac­tion dur­ing their semi­fi­nal win over Jacks.

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