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.
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