One thing is for sure about tomorrow’s North Otago premier netball competition final – it is unlikely to be a blowout either way.
Valley Gold and St Kevin’s College Senior A will meet in the decider at the North Otago Netball Centre in what is shaping up to be a tight contest.
Valley Gold qualified for the final with a 36-25 win over Waitaki Girls’ High School Lightning Strike after leading by six at the end of the third quarter, while St Kevin’s pulled away in the final quarter to see off Waitaki Girls’ High School Wildfire 49-44 after trailing 35-34 with one quarter to play.
St Kevin’s coach Carmen Brenssell said she was proud of the way her side held its nerve throughout a clash that could have gone either way.
“It was such a matched game. It was even every quarter and going into that last quarter our girls had a run .. and they couldn’t answer that. It was awesome from our girls; they held their heads and finished it off.”
She was particularly impressed with wing defence Laura Preston and the centre and wing attack combination of Gemma Dowling and Whitney Cleveland, who all made life difficult for Wildfire.
Brenssell said the side was now focused on Valley Gold and would have to be at its best to lift the title.
“We’re pretty matched .. our fitness might be a wee bit better, but they’ll have all the old heads. They’ll have the experience that our girls don’t have. But we’ve been working hard on pressure play and mental toughness and the girls have really been receptive to that so, hopefully, they can bring that through to the game.”
Valley Gold coach Petra Aspros was happy with her side’s performance against Lightning Strike, the side with which it drew in last year’s final to share the title.
“It was a good win. It was pretty tough in that first half because it was pretty equal at half time and then we just came together as the team usually do and took another win, which was great.”
She singled out the shooting combination of Rihi Schultz and Kara Cox, and the defensive pairing of Briar Wilson and Nicky Wallace for their “outstanding” efforts.
Aspros believed her side would have to be at its best defensively if it was going to put St Kevin’s away.
“We just have to play tight defence. They’re a really good unit and they’re quick and fast school kids, so we’ve just got to use our brains a wee bit.”