The Manukura team, with individual players Braxton Te Riini (WA) and Emily Autangavaia (GS) who were both selected for the tournament team.
Three of the first four spots in last week’s NZSS Netball Championships were filled by Auckland schools, with Saint Kentigern College edging Mount Albert Grammar School 35-34 in a gripping final.
In the playoff for third and fourth, Manukura School from Palmerston North beat Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 45-40. Two of Manukura’s players, Braxton Te Riini and Emily Autangavaia, were selected in the tournament team.
Manukura, who finished sixth last year and seventh in 2014 were pleased with their performance, explained their coach for the week Renee Matoe.
“We definitely thought we had a chance at making the final though and at the end of the day it just comes down to be being able to play at our very best in the games that matter, and we couldn’t quite pull it off in our semi-final against St Kent’s.”
Manukura lost to champions St Kent’s 33-38 in their semi-final on Thursday afternoon, following a morning quarter-final 41-22 win over Rotorua Girls’ High School.
“We definitely had our moments and opportunities to take control of the match against St Kent’, but we couldn’t quite do so. Third is still really good for us, and to be one of the top netball schools in New Zealand is great,” said Renee who is also a current Beko League Central player and who took the coaching reins off Yvette McCausland-Durie who is the new Pulse coach.
Manukura went into the NZSS tournament as Lower North Island tournament champions. Did that increase the team’s expectations last week?
“Yes there were expectations, but they were own ones that we set ourselves. So for us to be able to go there to nationals knowing we were ranked top from our region helped with our focus and confidence.”
As well as Manukura, Lower North Island schools filled the other top six finishing spots, with Wellington’s St Mary’s College defeating Wellington East Girls’ College 41-20 in the playoff for fifth and sixth.
Another special win for Manukura last week that Renee pointed to was against Wellington East Girls’ College.
“We’ve had a really good tussle with Wellington East over the years and this year we played them at Lower North Islands again, to make the final, and that was a really good game. Coming up against them last week we got off to a good start. But before we knew it they were back in it and they went up by 4 and then we managed to come back. It was a really tough game to come away from and it showed the girls what it takes to pull through in these encounters.”
Manukura won that match 37-29, but Wellington East drew the first quarter and won the third quarter 9-6. Manukura pulled clear to win the fourth quarter 13-4.
Family ties plays a part in Manukura’s success.
“We have three sets of sisters in our squad, so it’s quite cool having half the team related!
“They are all older-younger sisters and different ages. The first pair has been at Manukura for five years and the other sets of sisters have come in from different schools. It makes for a good dynamic in our squad.”
Braxton Te Riini and Emily Autangavaia made the tournament team, while two other Manukura players played for the NZSS side earlier this year.
“Braxton and Emily have both improved as the season’s gone on and their performances at the NZSS tournament over the whole week really showed that.”
Emily is Year 13 and plays Goal Shoot and Braxton is Year 12 and plays Wing Attack. Emily is from Auckland she made the Manawatu U19 team this year and Braxton was the captain of the Manawatu U17 team and made in the Aotearoa Maori team that competed in the Trans-Tasman tournament earlier this year with the NZSS team.
Goal Keep Antonia Heihei made that NZSS team earlier in the season and also the U20 Aotearoa Maori team and Goal Attack Diahn Strickland made the NZSS team.
Summing up last week’s tournament, Renee said that the glass is definitely half full. “We have got some work to do in looking at what we could have done better in our skills and our fitness levels, and hopefully we’ll keep improving next year and come back stronger.”
Manukura’s results at the NZSS tournament were:
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