Mount Albert Grammar School were crowned the best netball school in New Zealand for the sixth time after beating Westlake Girls’ High School 32-23 in the NZSS tournament final in Timaru on Friday afternoon.
MAGS led the final from start to finish, setting an early pattern and keeping a spirited Westlake at arm’s length throughout the decider.
Goal defence Halaevalu Toutaiolepo was a leading player for the champions, as MAGS’ defensive circle exerted consistent pressure on Westlake’s shooters. At the other end of court, MAGS goal attack Crystal Maro was busy all match and was successful with 23 of 26 shots on goal.
MAGS led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. Westlake GHS closed the buffer to three goals at halftime, closing to 15-12 by the break. MAGS maintained their pressure and kept their noses in front to lead 24-17 at the end of the third quarter and stayed in front to the end.
This is MAGS’ sixth NZSS title win, since their first in 2010 – meaning that they have now won six of the last nine national tournaments. They are back on top after finishing sixth last year.
MAGS’ win at the NZSS tournament follows their third place finish in the Auckland Premier competition behind winners Epsom Girls’ Grammar School and their 22-32 defeat to EGGS in the final of the UNISS tournament over Winter Tournament Week.
For Westlake, their previous best NZSS finish was 6th in 2009, and they went on to finish 9th in 2012, 8th in 2013 and 10th in 2015 at their last appearance at nationals. They had finished fifth in both the Auckland Premier Competition and the UNISS qualifying tournament in early September.
In an all-Auckland top four, Saint Kent's beat Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 36-33 in an extra time thriller in the 3 v 4 decider and penultimate match of the tournament.
Down 6-9 at the end of the third quarter and 11-20 behind at halftime, St Kent’s made some positional changes - including Tayla Earle moving from centre to wing attack and lastly to goal defence – and held their composure and came roaring back to force a 32-32 scoreline at the end of regular time.
St Kent’s won the third quarter 12-5, to cut EGGS’ lead to 25-23 heading into the final 10 minutes. St Kent’s got to 27-27 and then one goal up with five minutes still to play but EGGS lead 32-31 with only seconds remaining. St Kent’s won the last centre pass of the match and scored the equaliser to lock it up at 32-32.
Three minutes each way of extra time followed, with St Kent’s leading 35-32 at the extra time break and holding on to win 36-33.
In Thursday’s key playoff matches to decide the grand finalists, MAGS had defeated Saint Kentigern College 40-30, while Westlake had edged this year’s Auckland and UNISS champions EGGS 41-40 in a thriller.
EGGS led 36-24 at three-quarter time, but a storming fourth quarter comeback saw Westlake win the fourth term 17-4, including a run of 10 unanswered goals.
Earlier on the last day on Friday, Manukura beat New Plymouth Girls’ High School 45-33 in the playoff for fifth and sixth, in a repeat of the Lower North Island tournament final in early September.
The best of the South Island teams was Dunedin’s St Hilda’s Collegiate who finished eighth with a 32-39 defeat to Hamilton Girls’ High School.
Last year’s winners Howick College finished ninth, beating Southland Girls’ High School 36-24.
Sacred Heart College as the best of the Wellington schools, beating Christchurch’s Villa Maria College 41-27 in the 11 v 12 playoff.
Napier Girls’ High School defeated Wellington East Girls’ College 35-32 in the 13 v 14 match and Christchurch Girls’ High School overcame Nelson College for Girls 35-33 in the 15 v 16 game.
The Shooter of the Tournament was Summer Parekura of Hamilton Girls’ High School, the Midcourter of the Tournament was Tayla Earle of Saint Kent’s and the Defender of the Tournament was Parris Mason of New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
MAGS’ Road to the title:
Beat St Hilda’s Collegiate 56-27
Beat Villa Maria College 54-28
Beat Wellington East Girls’ College 46-37
Lost to New Plymouth Girls’ High School 30-31
Beat Hamilton Girls’ High School 34-33
Beat Saint Kentigern College 40-30
Beat Westlake Girls’ High School 32-23
NZSS Netball last 10 winners:
2018: Mount Albert Grammar School
2017 Howick College
2016 Saint Kentigern College
2015 Mt Albert Grammar School
2014 Mt Albert Grammar School
2013 Mt Albert Grammar School
2012 Mt Albert Grammar School
2011 Tu Toa
2010 Mt Albert Grammar School
2009 Tu Toa
The two squads that met in the final were:
Addi Albert-Jones (Captain), Leila Atkins, Waiana Jones, Latonya Lole, Jada Manase, Crystal Maro, Sharne Pupuke-Robati, Aaliyah Rooney, Halaevlau Toutaiolepo, Renata Tusani, Catalina Young, Ruby Young Coach: Sarah Hann. Assistant Coach: Kylie Leot.a Manager: Primary Care: Oceane Maihi.
Westlake Girls' High School
Olyvia Baggett, Charli Foster, Angeline Godinet, Elizabeth Handey, Courtney Katterns (co-captain), Sara McCarthy (co-captain), Kylie McGahan, Ellie Minton, Claudia Sowter, Kristin Talma, Rachael Webster, Millie Wilton, Captains: Coach: April Ieremia. Assistant Coach: Celine McGahan. Manager: Liz Page. Analyst: Carrie McCarthy.
Nelson College for Girls (NCG) will take their place at the NZSS Netball Championships in Timaru next week for the first time in over 20 years.
NCG qualified in fourth from the recent South Island Secondary Schools (SISS) tournament, behind winners Villa Maria College, second placed Southland Girls’ High School, third placed Christchurch Girls’ High School and ahead of fifth placed St Hilda’s Collegiate.
At the 16-team NZSS tournament, NCG are in Pool A with Upper North Island winner Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, Lower North Island third placed qualifier Napier Girls’ High School and UNISS fifth placed qualifier Hamilton Girls’ High School.
A bit more about them below.
School: Nelson College for Girls
Team Members: Lydia Swaney, Olivia Avery, Alex Whitfield, Tia Van Diepen, Jaime Archer, Jessica Williams, Kate Caradus, Zoe Curtis, Emma Newsome, Scarlet Powell, Sophie Fleming, Chloe Webb.
Captains: Lydia Swaney (c) and Olivia Avery (vc)
Coaches: Lyn Fleming and Faye Eden
NZSS Netball tournament history:
The last known time Nelson College for Girls was at NZSS was 21 years ago, back in 1997. So this is a pretty new experience for us and our school!
What’s it going to take for your school to do well in the NZSS Nationals?
We need to keep working hard and pushing each other hard in training. As well as training, we need to continue to eat well and keep up our nutrition and hydration. This keeps us at our peak so that we’re ready to hit the court having the best build up possible.
What local competitions has your school team played in this year and how did your team go?
Our team played in the Premier competition in Nelson where we mostly played women in a three round-robin set up. We ended up coming fourth in this competition. However, we did go to Christchurch and play some friendly games against Villa Maria A and B as well as Christchurch A, where we won these games.
Who are your school’s closest rivals on the netball court?
Our closest rival on the netball court would be Waimea College. They are the only Secondary Schools team who we have the opportunity to play regularly. Waimea challenge our fitness and skills and when we play them it means we get to put all our hard work on the court.
What’s been a memorable match your team has been involved in this year?
A very memorable game the team has played was definitely our SISS game against St. Margaret’s [won 36-33], which decided what team was going to get into top 4. We played a very tight game where both teams fought till the very end and gave all they had. This was a very memorable game for us, as we never thought we’d be able to make it as far as we did in the competition and making it into top 4 was an awesome feeling.
What’s the age make-up of your team?
We have a lot of year 13’s, six, one year 12 and four year 11’s. None of us have ever gone to NZSS before so will be an exciting, new, experience.
What’s the strength of your team?
The strength of our team is our drive to never give up and our team bond. We’re all very good friends out of netball and this correlates onto the court. All of our team is either been in a representative team this year or previously played in a representative team. We have all played with each other in rep teams before so we have an understanding of how each person plays and how each person is different. Our team culture is one of our strongest attributes. We all like to have fun together but we know when it’s time to knuckle down and put in some work.
Are there individuals in your team that also play other sports or do other activities for the school?
Within our team we have a range of girls that have different abilities in different areas. We have a couple of girls who are involved in our school choir, which gained a silver medal in the national ‘Big Sing’ choral festival. We have girls who play at a high level in Volleyball and New Zealand Basketball. As well as this we have four girls who’re part of the Head Student team as House captains and Olivia Avery is our Head girl at Nelson College for Girls this year.
Does your team have a motto or a mascot or any pre or post game rituals or preparations?
We like to play games such as ‘oomcha’ and ‘bump’ as a way to get the chat up before games and to get mentally prepared.
What other support has your team received to get to allow it to operate at the level it does?
We’ve had so much support this year including individual sponsorship and team sponsorship from NBS. As well as this many parents and family travelled down from Nelson to Dunedin to see us play so we owe them a massive thank you for taking time out of their busy lives to support us. I already know that family is coming to Timaru to again support us so we are very thankful for them. But we owe the biggest thank you to our coaches and manager. Lyn and Faye have given up so much of their time to come to trainings and games each week. We wouldn’t be where we are today without our coaches continually supporting us and teaching us. We also owe a massive thank you to Libby Archer, our manager. We all love the food she cooks and the laughs we share with Libby and our coaches.
Napier Girls’ High School recently finished third at the Lower North Island Secondary School (LNISS) tournament to book their place in the 16-team NZSS tournament in Timaru in the second week of the October school holidays.
From the LNISS zone, Napier Girls' High School join winners Manukura, New Plymouth Girls’ High School, Wellington East Girls’ College and Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt. Napier beat Wellington East 40-37 in the playoff for third and fourth.
Four Napier players, Jamiee Tapine, Valentine Kahukura, Parris Petera and Melika Samia, made the A Grade LNISS tournament team.
This follows a successful year in Hawke’s Bay competitions and they will be gunning for a positive finish to their season.
Napier GHS are in pool A with Upper North Island tournament winners Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, Nelson School for Girls and Hamilton Girls’ High School.
Napier last played in the NZSS in 2015. Before that they competed in 2018 and finished 12th.
A bit more about the team below:
School: Napier Girls’ High School
Team Members: : Janaya Preece, Janayah Lewis, Caitlin Smith, Parris Petera, Samantha Taylor, Ashleigh Poi, Brianna Lee, Maddison Kaye, Jaimee Tapine, Kiah McCorkindale, Melika Samia, Valentine Kahukura
Captain: Valentine Kahukura
Coaches: Annemarie Kupa and Julie Williams
NZSS Netball tournament recent history:
We were last at nationals in 2015 and we were placed 13th.
What’s it going to take for your school to do well in the NZSS Nationals coming up in Timaru?
Start well in every game. Keep dancing!!!
What local competitions has your school team played in this year and how did your team go?
Our team won the secondary schools Super 12 and also played in the Premier Club Super 8 competition in Hawke’s Bay and won that too.
Who are your school’s closest rivals on the netball court?
Hastings Girls’ High School and our inter-school fixtures against Palmerston North Girls’ and Tauranga Girls’ High School.
What’s been a memorable match your team has been involved in this year?
The final against the Otane Thirsty Whale club, as our team had family members in the Otane team and our coach Annemarie’s twin sister was playing against us. Also our game at the Lower North Island Tournament against Sacred Heart Lower Hutt to make top 4, which we won 33-30.
What’s the age make-up of your team?
The NGHS team is made up of one year 13 player, four year 12s, six year 11s and one year 10. This is the first any of us have been to nationals.
What’s the strength of your team?
We are all representative or Development players. We have strong shooters and a good team defence.
Are there individuals in your team that also play other sports for the school?
Melika Samia - HB Basketball and Volleyball Rep / Janaya Preece - HB Basketball Rep / Janayah Lewis - HB Basketball Rep / Ashleigh Poi - HB Basketball Rep
Does your team have any pre or post game rituals or preparations?
A dance routine the girls’ choreographed to the songs ‘It’s tricky’ or ‘She’s got that vibe’.
What other support has your team received to get to allow it to operate at the level it does?
Good fundraising efforts by parents at short notice.
A year can be a long time in secondary school sport.
Just ask the New Plymouth Girls’ High School Senior A netball team, who recently put aside the heartbreak of missing out on qualifying for the NZSS national tournament by one place and one goal in 2017 by finishing second at this year's Lower North Island Netball Secondary Schools (LNISS) tournament during Winter Tournament Week.
With the top five finishing teams qualifying for the 16-school NZSS tournament every October from the LNISS zone, NPGHS lost 28-29 to Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt in the 5 v 6 match at last year’s LNISS tournament played on home courts in New Plymouth.
That loss was the end of the line in 2017 for NPGHS, while Sacred Heart went on to finish a respectable 10th at nationals.
NPGHS captain Boston Falaniko said last year’s close finish was especially strong motivation for the senior players to do well in 2018.
“There are four year 13s in our team and because it was our last year we really wanted to make nationals and that was one of our top goals all year,” said Boston. “We just stayed committed to that goal and worked hard and it paid off for us.”
At the recent LNISS tournament played at Vautier Park, NPGHS won their first eight matches straight to book a place in the final on Friday against Manukura.
“We made a bit of a slow start actually, just getting our connections right and it felt like we hadn’t been playing for ages. But once it got to Wednesday and Thursday we started to connect well and our team bonding with each other was really good and we started playing some good netball and that is what got us to the final.”
NPGHS missed out 20-22 to Manukura in that decider. How did the final pan out? “The first three quarters we were down but for the last quarter we put in the hard work and came back, outscoring them 7-1.”
Manukura leapt to a 10-4 lead after the first quarter and hung on against the fast-finishing NPGHS to win the LNISS title for the third consecutive year and they finished third at last year’s NZSS tournament.
Centre and wing defender Boston Falaniko, wing defender and goal defender Brooke Neilson and defenders Isla Vink and Parris Mason were all named in the tournament team after the final.
For NPGHS, qualifying for the NZSS tournament is a feat the school last achieved in 2013 when currently injured Silver Fern defender Kelly Jury was in the team, a year before the current year 13s started secondary school.
The NZSS tournament has been running 1993. NPGHS finished seventh in 1999, sixth in 2001, fifth in 2002, third in 2003, sixth in 2004, seventh in 2006, seventh in 2007, sixth in 2008 and 12th in 2013.
Last year Howick College won their first title, breaking the stranglehold from recent seasons by their Auckland rivals Saint Kentigern College and Mount Albert Grammar School.
This year’s NZSS tournament is in Timaru from 9-12 October.
NPGHS has also had a positive year playing in the local competition. “We were in the Premier 2 club competition, playing against clubs around New Plymouth, and we won the final. This means that next year the team will go up to Premier 1.”
Some players were also in the Taranaki U17 team that finished eighth of 42 teams at the Central Zone representative tournament at Vautier Park in July. “We won all our games to qualify for the top 4. We had to win against Palmerston North to stay in the top 4 but we lost which was unfortunate - but finishing eighth was still the best we had finished in a long time.”
Boston and Parris both made the tournament team from the U17 tournament.
Boston also plays touch and indoor netball, Parris also plays Touch and basketball , Brooke plays rugby sevens .
Last year Boston went to South Africa with the New Zealand indoor netball team.
Boston said that next year she is moving to study in Wellington next year, and will look to continue her netball career there.
New Plymouth Girls' High School LNISS results:
Beat Tawa College Won 44-10
Beat Horowhenua College 63-6
Beat Whanganui High School 36-27
Beat Inglewood High 29-11
Beat Wellington Girls 30-18
Beat Hastings Girls High School 37-19
Beat Palmerston North Girls High 27-19
Beat Wellington East Girls 37-23 (semi-final)
Lost to Manukura 20-22 (final)
LNISS tournament – five teams qualified for the NZSS tournament:
2. New Plymouth Girls’ High School
3. Napier Girls’ High School
4. Wellington East Girls’ College
5. Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt
At the end of last year, Vika Koloto found a new home on the netball court.
“I only recently switched from goal shoot to goal attack, “she says. “Late last year the main goal attack in our school team got injured and I had to step up into that position.”
“It’s really fun, I love it. I found I like the extra movement and space and feeding goal shoots. I found I got a lot more fitter and everything was perfect for me when I switched positions.”
Last month the Baradene College year 12 player was selected in the NZSS netball team that plays in Canberra from 1-5 October against the Australian U17 squad and an England U17 side.
This will be the first time she has represented a New Zealand team and it is believed that she is Baradene College’s first NZSS netball representative.
Selection was a surprise for Vika. “It was quite a big shock. There was a development camp in the school holidays and they picked the squad from that, and I was quite surprised to get in,” she explained.
The initial squad went their separate ways until the U19 and U17 tournaments. “A few days after the U17 tournament the team was named and my name was there.”
Vika’s Auckland team finished runner-up to Wellington at the U17 tournament in July. The final was hard-fought and intense throughout, before Wellington pulled away to win 41-29. This was the fourth straight year these two teams had met in the national U17 decider.
From the Auckland U17 team, Vika and Killarney Morey from Epsom Girls’ Grammar School were selected in the NZSS squad. Vika is also eligible to play the U17s tournament again next year.
Last week Morey’s EGGS team won the Auckland secondary schools competition, beating Saint Kentigern College 39-37 in an extra time final.
Baradene finished eighth of 12 teams, but Vika said there were plenty of positives. “Last year we were 11th so we have come up three places. We have got a very young team. Out of 12 players in our team we only have two that are leaving us and we have got four year 10s and a couple of year 11s.”
Vika is Baradene’s vice-captain this year and she has been in the team since year 10.
Baradene won four games and lost seven in the round-robin series but some of those losses were close. “At one of the early season tournaments we only lost to Epsom by three, which we were quite excited by, and even with St Kent’s we were with them the whole game but lost to them in the last quarter.”
Baradene scored 355 points and conceded 363, and in competition play their losses to EGGS and St Kent’s were 28-34 and 30-37 respectively. “There were some good games but we always end up losing in the last quarter.”
Next up for Vika’s school team is the Upper North Island Secondary School (UNISS) tournament in Mt Maunganui that runs all next week.
Baradene will need to finish inside the top six to qualify for the 16-team NZSS tournament, which is being played in Timaru this year from 9-12 October.
Last year Baradene came 10th at UNISS, but the year before they finished sixth and played in the NZSS tournament in Lower Hutt. They finished down the table, but as recently as 2012 they were third and in 2013 they were fourth. The NZSS netball tournament can lay claim to being one of the most competitive tournaments on the sporting calendar.
Netball is Vika’s main sport, but she also plays volleyball and has played that for Baradene for the past four years.
Vika is part of her school’s sports programme called BEST, which stands for Baradene Elite Specialist Training.
She is also one of several up and coming netballers in the NZEPP programme, for aspiring netballers developing into Beko players in the Northern Zone.
“We did heaps of training with them and Fast5, and I was lucky to train with the Northern Comets Beko team during pre-season.”
Vika has been playing netball since she was nine, starting out as a defender but soon moving to goal shoot and latterly goal attack. Her goal is to play Beko netball, but with another full year of school to come her focus next year will be on leading the growing Baradene Senior A side and continuing to develop her own game.
Georgie Edgecombe has won two national sporting titles for her school and representative sides in basketball and touch and has played alongside some of the country’s top up and coming female players in both those sports.
But putting her sole focus into netball has paid dividends for Georgie with her recent selection in the 14-strong New Zealand Secondary Schools team.
Georgie, a goal defender or goal keeper and occasional wing defender, joins the NZSS team at the end of September before travelling to Canberra from 1-5 October to play the Australian U17 squad and an England U17 side.
The St Peter’s School, Cambridge player been selected as one of two netballers from Waikato Bay of Plenty in the NZSS team, alongside Khiarna Williams who goes to Trident High School and played in the region’s Beko side this season.
Georgie is back playing after recently being sidelined by a short, sharp injury.
“I played for Hamilton City at the National U17 tournament in the school holidays - but I got injured in the first game,” she says. “I dislocated my patella in the last 30 seconds of the opening game.”
Her team won that match over Hawke’s Bay Black 32-22. They went on to finish 10th of 42 teams without Georgie on the court, although she was able to contribute in other ways. “I was a bit of a defence coach for the rest of the week!”
The New Zealand team was named after the U17 tournament had concluded and the good news is that Georgie was back playing last week. “I am on the recovery now and it is nearly all better and I had my first three quarters back on court last Thursday.”
St Peter’s School Head Girl Georgie is also the leader of her school Senior A netball team. “I have been in the team for three years and I have been the captain for those three years as well.” This year she is captaining a young side. “Our team is made up of mostly year 10s, but they have lots of potential.”
St Peter’s play in two competitions. On Monday nights they play in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty school competiton and on Thursday nights they play Waikato club netball in the Premier grade. “This is against players such as Laura Langman and WBOP Beko and Magic players, so it is a good learning opportunity for us and our young players are gaining plenty of experience.”
The big tournament coming up is the Upper North Island Secondary Schools (UNISS) tournament in Mt Maunganui this time next month in Winter Tournament Week.
St Peter’s heads into this year’s UNISS seeded 19th and needs to finish inside the top six to earn a spot at the coveted NZSS tournament later in October.
Georgie started playing netball when she was about eight or nine. “I started in primary school with my friends and had a lot of fun. I realised once I got into intermediate and into secondary school I really enjoyed it and grew passionate about it and wanted to take it further.”
Her upcoming trip with the New Zealand Secondary Schools team will be her third netball tour of Australia. “I have been on two school netball tours there before. Last year we went to Sydney and we spent about four days playing school, club and rep teams, and in 2015 we did the same.”
With a background in other sports, netball is Georgie’s sole focus now.
“I have played basketball for St Peter’s. I am not this season, but I did in 2015 and 2016.” St Peter’s were national NZSS champions both those years. Teammates Charlisse Ledger-Walker and Ella Bradley are current NZ U17 basketballers.
“My other main sport has been touch in the summer. I played in the 2017 U18 Waikato team.” This team were national champions and members of that side are in the NZ U18 side for the Youth World Cup and others are in the NZ U18 girls sevens rugby side going to the Youth Olympics in October.
Being Head Girl of St Peter’s and a newly minted NZSS netballer means there isn’t a lot of downtime for Georgie. “I have got a pretty full schedule.” Academically, she is doing five NCEA level 3 subjects, geography, economics, maths and English.
She was asked to trial for the WBOP netball team at the start of this year but she decided not to given her already packed schedule. For now she is just concentrating on an exciting few months coming up with school and representative netball and finishing her time at St Peter’s on a high.
A 14-strong New Zealand Secondary Schools netball team has been name today and will travel to Canberra from 1-5 October to play the Australian U17 squad and an England U17 side in an internatonal age-grade series.
The 2018 New Zealand Secondary Schools Team is:
Addi Albert Jones – Mt Albert Grammar (Northern)
Bianca Nagaiya – Epsom Girls Grammar School (Northern) Read more
Charity Polu – Sacred Heart College Lower Hutt (Central) Read more
Georgia Stroud – Villa Maria College (Mainland) Read more
Georgie Edgecombe - St Peter’s School Cambridge (Waikato Bay of Plenty)
Greer Sinclair – Epsom Girls Grammar School (Northern) Read more
Khiarna Williams – Trident High School (Waikato Bay of Plenty) Read more
Killarney Morey – Epsom Girls Grammar School (Northern)
Nanise Waqairo – Howick College (Northern) Read more
Olivia Burnham – Villa Maria College (Mainland) Read more
Paris Lokotui – Queen Margaret College (Central) Read more
Saviour Tui – St Mary’s College (Central) Read more
Tayla Earle – Saint Kentigern College (Northern) Read more
Vika Koloto – Baradene College (Northern) Read more
The NZSS team includes a number of Beko Netball League players who have stood out in the national league including Paris Lokotui and Saviour Tui who are in the Central side, as well as Waikato-BOP shooter Khiarna Williams
New Zealand Secondary Schools coach Mary-Jane Araroa said the squad had impressed during performances at the National Development Camp in January as well as the National Age Group Championships in July.
“This is such an important age-group for the development of Netball in New Zealand and it’s exciting to help these players realise their potential,” she said.
“The athletes named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools team have stood out at a number of events and we’re looking forward to working with them to help them take that next step.
“It is always a challenge to play Australian teams but we’re looking forward to that challenge with this exciting group of athletes.”
Head coach Araroa and assistant Charissa Barham will name their Captain and Vice-Captain at a later date.
“It was a hard game on court right to the end, but the winning margin and score didn’t match how we felt out there,” said Wellington U17 netball captain Charity Polu after he side had beaten Auckland to win Wellington’s third straight National U17 title.
The Wellington Black side successfully defended their title with a 41-29 win over Auckland 1 in the final, after edging Howick Pakuranga 28-27 in the semi-final earlier in the day.
Polu, who is year 13 at Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt, said both knockout games on the final day of the tournament were tough encounters.
“We were pretty confident going into the semi-final against Howick Pakuranga and we were up by a few goals throughout the match," said Charity who played wing defence all week. “We knew they had good, experienced players [Howick College and Saint Kentigern College were last year’s NZSS tournament finalists] so our plan was to play smart and stay composed. In the last quarter we held on to win.”
This game plan also paid dividends in the final. Auckland took the early initiative and led 11-8 after fast-paced, physical first quarter. But Wellington soaked up the early pressure, took the lead and pulled clear for victory. Star St Mary’s College shooter Saviour Tui was rarely rattled as she netted most of her shots before being subbed late in the match.
Earlier in the tournament, Wellington had wins over Dunedin (28-24), Selwyn (39-19), Waitakere 2 (40-20), Rotorua (56-16), Auckland 2 (40-26) and North Harbour 1 (44-22).
“We started the week slow, it was like we were just getting back into it, getting our connections right, and we only won our first game by 4 against Dunedin. Throughout the week we improved steadily.
“This tournament in general was a lot of hard work, we had to fight for everything, and so winning it was special for us. Last year we already had the teamwork there, but this year’s team improved the more we played and our dedication paid off.”
The team’s preparation had involved a series of live practice matches with the Wellington Gold side, who finished 25th of 42 teams.
Charity was co-captain of the winning Black side with Wellington East Girls’ College wing attack Sharnay Leef.
The Wellington team was represented by players from several schools, with St Mary’s and Samuel Marsden each contributing three players.
There were five players returning from last year’s winning team, Charity Polu, Lynette Sosefo, Paris Lokotui, Saviour Tui and Lauren Smith. Charity and Lynette were the two year 13s in this year’s team.
Charity, Saviour, Paris and Maddie Feaunati all made the tournament team from the Wellington Black side.
Charity also praised coaches, head coach Dion Te Whetu and assistant coach Irene van Dyk, their game sense team training clearly paying off as well.
“Irene helped the attacking end a lot, and because she had been in our position she always had the right words to say to us and she knew how far to push us.”
Howick Pakuranga beat Manawatu 49-25 in the playoff for third and fourth. Auckland 2 rounded out the top five with a 42-32 win over Waitakere 1.
Back home, Charity plays Senior A club netball for PIC.
The Regional secondary school competition resumes this week with third round matches on Monday night, combining the Wellington and Hutt Valley schools. Sacred Heart won the pre-season College Sport Wellington tournament and are top qualifiers for the upcoming Hutt Valley schools final.
Following that is the Lower North Island tournament, back in Palmerston North over Winter Tournament Week, with the top five schools to qualifying for the National Secondary Schools tournament in Timaru.
“Last year we came tenth at Nationals, which was pretty good for our team as it was the first time there for a few years.”
Charity is the second oldest of four siblings. Older brother Albert was in the winning St Pat’s Silverstream rugby First XV last year and now plays Premier club rugby for nearby Hutt Old Boys Marist and the next oldest Eileen is in year 10 and also plays netball for Sacred Heart College.
The Wellington Black netball team that defended their National U17 title last week was:
Coach: Dion Te Whetu
Assistant Coach: Irene van Dyk Manager: Melissa Salvador
Saviour Tui has a permanent grin throughout our 15 minute chat at St Mary’s College this week.
Little changes when she is on the court.
"She’s quite innocent on court and does everything with a smile. There’s always a smile on her face, no matter how intense the game is, she just pulls out the smile," says Netball Central Performance Manager and Beko Head Coach Pelesa Semu.
At 1.89m and year 12 at St Mary’s College, Saviour joined the Central Beko team for the first time this season and has become a regular starter in the shooting circle. Playing goal attack for the Central side, Saviour has played all five of Central’s matches so far and is shooting at over 88 percent, which includes netting 30 from 31 against the Marvels in round four.
Semu says little fazes Saviour. “She just shows great confidence on court and that’s probably reflective of the way she’s shooting.”
“She’s doing everything a coach wants in a shooter, just quite confident, looking to the post, really accurate and her shooting volume is pretty consistent. She’s in-form and playing pretty well at the moment.’’
She is one of a group of promising school-aged players in the Central Beko and Pulse squads, including her schoolmates, defender Renee Savai’inaea and midcourt Ainsleyana Puleiata (currently injured), and Wellington East Girls’ College shooter Tiana Metuarau and Paris Lokotui (Queen Margaret College) – who she shares the same birthday with.
Behind Saviour’s friendly persona is a steely work ethic and a desire to succeed.
“We started training in the mornings from 6am-7am, so I get up at 4.55am and catch the bus in to town for that, she says. “You get used to it and I enjoy it. I was really happy making the Beko team, the strength and conditioning programme has helped me a lot,” she adds.
Saviour was brought up in and lives in Wainuiomata, and morning and afternoon trainings are at the ASB centre in Kilbirnie.
“Saviour is one of those young players you just love to coach because she’s committed to the programme, wants to do well, always learning, always asking and nothing gets too big for her. She just takes it on the chin and keeps going,” adds Semu.
Her parents are right behind her. It was Saviour’s mother that introduced her to netball. “I think I started playing when I was about eight,” she beams. “My mum got me into playing and she has continued supporting me through all my games."
This carried through to representative teams she started making at a young age, and most recently to the Wellington U17 team she was part of last year that won the national title.
“Being part of that Wellington U17 team last year was one of my favourite moments - not just winning but we had a strong bond and got on really well.”
The Wellington team successfully defended the Anna Rowberry Cup, beating Auckland 34-25 in the final. Saviour, Paris, Ana and Renee all made the U17 tournament team.
She points to her netball friends as helping her succeed as well. “I admire my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supports me in my netball as well.”
Saviour is the only one of her siblings playing competitive sport. “I have a younger sister at St Mary’s College who doesn’t play sport and my older brother at St Bernard’s College is smart and doesn’t really either.”
She has always been an attacker. “I enjoy goal shoot and goal attack equally, and play goal shoot for school and goal attack for Beko.”
This is her third year in the St Mary’s College team, who hope to qualify for the National Secondary School Championships again. St Mary’s finished sixth in 2016 in Lower Hutt and seventh last year in Rotorua. Saviour made the tournament team both years.
She is a current member of the NZSS wider squad, from which he final squad will be selected to play matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September.
St Mary’s College are currently national rugby and basketball champions. Saviour says that the success of all the sporting students helps motivate others to do better and reach for the top.
Beko Netball Round 6:
Central versus Waikato Bay of Plenty
TSB Arena, Wellingon
Sunday 17 June, 2.10pm.
Three Villa Maria College representative netballers are also going places fast off the court.
All three are key members of the school’s Senior A netball side and are in the Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad, while also each excelling in other sports.
Georgia Stroud is year 13 and plays in the midcourt and is a middle distance runner and national U19 surf life saving champion. Hannah Glen is year 13 and a goal shoot and goal attack and a recent Maadi Cup rowing medallist. Olivia Burnham is year 12 and a defender and a track runner and Pathway to Podium athlete.
Georgia says that school netball has been underway since the start of this term. “We have been playing since the start of the term and this Saturday we have a promotion-relegation match to move up to the Premier 2 grade, which would be good as it’s really competitive this year.”
The Premier 2 club netball grade in the Christchurch Netball Centre competitions is the grade that the top secondary school teams play in. The leading Canterbury schools also play in the secondary school SuperNet competition on Wednesdays, which runs until late August and features a first round-robin followed by a top four-bottom four series.
Last year Villa Maria finished fourth in the School Sport Canterbury SuperNet competition, losing to Ashburton College 42-30 in the third placed playoff.
Making the NZSS nationals this year is a definite goal for Villa Maria, who have got a strong record at the national tournament but not in recent years, having won in 2008 and finished in the top four on three occasions prior to that.
Last year, rivals Christchurch Girls’ High School and St Andrew’s College were the two Christchurch schools represented at nationals, and to qualify this year Villa Maria must finish in the top five at the SISS Championships in Winter Tournament Week.
Representative netball tournaments are also in July. “Hannah and I just got named in the Canterbury U19s and Olivia has been selected in the U17s,” says Georgia who will be pushing for selection in the final New Zealand secondary school team that plays matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September. Georgia was the only Canterbury player selected in this year’s 23-strong initial NZSS squad following the camp in Cambridge that all three players were invited to.
The Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad that all three are in is unique amongst the six franchises in that it is the highest elite franchise squad for Mainland secondary school netballers. Unlike the other five franchises, school players are not eligible for selection in the Beko of Tactix squads.
As well as netball, Georgia is busy with two other sports. “Over the summer I do athletics and surf-lifesaving,” she enthuses.
In February at the National Surf Life Saving Championships in Gisborne, she won gold in the U19km beach run and backed that up with silver in the open women’s 2km beach run.
On the track, she’s a middle distance runner, racing the 400m, 800m and 1500m distances.
Georgia won the Senior Girls 800m at the SISS Athletics championships in Timaru in March, in a time that would have seen her medal at the NZSS Championships in December.
Also at the SISS meet in March, Villa Maria’s 4 x 400m team of Georgia, Olivia, Julia Burnham (Olivia’s sister and year 10) and Kate Davies (year 11) not only won the SISS title but they also set a new SISS record time of 3.58.16.
The NZSS Senior Girls 4 x 400m record is 3.58.41, set by Howick College in 2009, so the Villa Maria team is looking forward to competing at this year’s national championships in Dunedin. Last year they won silver at nationals, after winning this same event in 2016.
Georgia gets her sporting talent from her family. Her mother Helen is a former Black Ferns rugby player and Canterbury netball representative and the Villa Maria’s Senior A netball coach, while her father Alan is a former All Whites goal-keeper.
As well as being in the Baby Beko netball squad, Olivia is in her second year in the Pathway to Podium programme for athletics.
A 400m runner and hurdler, Olivia says the March’s SISS 4 x 400m win and record was good personal reward following a difficult past few months.
“I spent the summer coming back from a netball injury I got at the U17 nationals last year. I went over on my ankle and I was out for about six weeks. That also put my training back and it was really hard for me.”
Olivia is focusing on netball, while also training for athletics over the winter.
“It is quite hard switching between athletics and netball, they are two completely different sports so that is a challenge,” explains Olivia.
“It is just a matter of being able to keep the consistency with my training and balancing out netball and athletics.”
Hannah is kept busy rowing in the summer and playing netball in the winter.
“I got bronze in the U18 quad at Maadi Cup. The other crew members were Kathryn Glen, Charlotte Freeman, Madeleine Davidson and our cox Emily Beattie.
“Kathryn is my cousin who got named in the NZ Junior rowing team rowing team and won bronze in the U18 single sculls.”
Previously, the crew had won the U18 quad at the SISS rowing championships. “This put us in a good position going forward to the Maadi Cup, we all knew we had a chance to do well. We qualified sixth for the final and pulled forward and finished third.”
This is only Hannah’s second year of rowing, after winning bronze in 2017 in the U17 double with Kathryn at her first Maadi Cup.
Like Olivia with her athletics, Hannah says that the adjustment from elite rowing and netball is a challenge. “The crossover from the two sports is quite difficult, getting the footwork back as opposed to sitting down on a boat, and also because the two seasons clash as one finishes and another starts.”
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