Waikato-BOP took a confident climb up the Beko Netball League points ladder on the back of an impressive defensive effort across the board.
They beat the Northern Marvels 68-54 at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland on Sunday in one of two league matches played over the weekend, while the Southern Blast beating Central Manawa 45-42 in Invercargill.
The other game between Hellers Mainland and the Northern Comets was cancelled due to the Christchurch terror attacks with points shared between the two teams.
Waikato-BOP captain Ali Wilshire said her side was building its combinations nicely having netted two wins from as many outings this season.
“We had a really good lead-up to our game this week and it was a really solid effort from the girls so I’m super proud,” she following the 14-goal victory over the Marvels.
Wilshire, who left the court temporarily with what looked like an ankle injury, said the inclusion of ANZ Premiership players from the Magic gave her side a boost.
They had played alongside shooter Kelsey McPhee and Jenna O’Sullivan when they finished runners-up in 2018 with both players getting court time in Sunday’s win over the Marvels.
The injection of Magic mid-courter Sydney Fraser, who is returning from injury, also made an impact up front with her speed and connection to McPhee lifting the shooting temp for Waikato-BOP in the second half.
Marvels captain Aisha Bower lamented the high turnover count from her side and their inability to “nail the basics”.
“We didn’t put in what we’ve been practicing all week and that’s a real shame,” she said.
What started as an early arm-wrestle between the two teams blew out in the second half as the Waikato-BOP’s efforts on defence flustered the Marvels attack.
The hosts struggled to find their rhythm up front with both Georgie Edgecombe and Jenna O’Sullivan getting their hand to plenty of ball for Waikato-BOP.
They led by two goals at the first break and withstood a Marvels surge early in the second stanza to build on their advantage which stood at six goals by halftime.
The introduction of towering Marvels shooter Grace Nweke and dynamic wing Tayla Earle would have seen many punters picking a shift in momentum.
But the defensive efforts of Georgia Tong, Greer Sinclair (who replaced O’Sullivan at goal defence) and Edgecombe kept the Marvels frontline in check.
Coach Rebecca Gabel also introduced some of her own strike power with McPhee picking up the goal shooter bib in the third quarter and Fraser making an appearance at wing attack.
Fraser’s links to McPhee left the Marvels defenders in two minds while schoolgirl Khiarna Williams, who was named player of the match, impressed with her option taking and accuracy in the shooting circle at goal attack.
Waikato-BOP led 47-36 with 15 minutes to play and finished the game strongly for maximum points.
Waikato-BOP 68 (Khiarna Williams 29/36, Eden Anderson 7/9, Kelsey McPhee 30/37, Braxton Te Riini 2/3) beat Northern Marvels 54 (Filda Vui 13/15, Hannah Ward 14/18, Grace Nweke 27/31). Quarter scores: 14-12, 28-22, 47-36, 68-54.
Southern Blast 45 (Georgia Heffernan 32/42, Holly Munro 13/16) beat Central Manawa 42 (Rochelle Fourie 14/15, Monalisa Groom 9/11, Saviour Tui 15/26, Grace McLean 4/4). Quarter scores: 9-7, 20-18, 32-28, 45-42.