Valley Gold is again the toast of North Otago netball after claiming the premier grade title for a fifth consecutive year.
The Weston-based side had a comfortable 35-18 win in Saturday’s final over a Maheno team that tried hard but was unable to maintain any kind of momentum, particularly in the second half.
Valley took a slender two-goal lead into quarter time before extending that to five goals.
The team started the second half with a 16-11 lead and it was going to take something special from Maheno to close the deficit.
However, Maheno was outscored 19-7 in the second half as the defending champion asserted its dominance.
When the game started, Valley shot out to a 3-0 lead to set the tone as Maheno struggled to maintain possession, not scoring its first goal until the four-minute mark.
Maheno goal-keep Mel Smith and centre Kat Kawau did their best to contain Valley with frequent turnovers, but had little support from the shooting circle.
Valley captain and midcourter Petra Aspros, who has been part of all five of the side’s final victories, was proud of the effort Valley put in to clinch another title.
Aspros believed it was the first time any North Otago club had won five straight titles.
“We were very excited after the game to get our five in a row. We had a look at the trophy and it’s the first time it’s been done, so it makes it even more exciting for us.”
She said Valley was solid the length of the court and was rewarded for playing to its strengths.
“We just played as a team and that’s what we’ve done all year round. I think that’s why we do so well, because we’re all friends on and off the court.
“If someone makes a mistake, you just get over it and get the job done. I think we did really well on attack and our defence was just outstanding.”
She singled out shooters Rihi Schultz and Brytnee Firman, and defenders Shay Frost and Nicky Wallace, for special praise.
“I think we did really well in our attack end. You have to at the end of the day, and our defence was just outstanding.”
While the final wasn’t quite sewn up by halftime, Aspros had confidence her team would finish the job, as has been the case throughout the season.
“I think, by halftime, we probably felt in control. We were still making mistakes and that’s what we said at halftime, that we need to go back and think it’s 0-0 and start again.
“We wanted to play a really good, clean game and put our best performance out there. In the second half, we just pushed through and everyone did their job and did it well.”
Aspros said she was confident Valley would retain the bulk of this year’s squad as it gunned for six in a row in 2019.
Valley has dominated the winter codes this year.
The club’s senior rugby side won the Citizens Shield a few weeks ago and now its top netball team has followed suit.
Aspros said several Valley rugby players and other club members joined the celebrations on Saturday night.
“We celebrated in style at the Valley clubrooms with the boys, so it was good .. it was really nice to be able to celebrate all together.”