NO players prominent in finals

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North Otago links were everywhere you looked when Southern cleaned up at the Dunedin club netball finals last week.
The Southern Magpies won the premier title for a fifth year in a row, beating Phys Ed A 58-53 at the Edgar Centre, while the Southern Tui won the bottom four final, pipping University-Albion B 64-60 in an extra-time thriller.
North Otago coaching great Georgie Salter is in charge of the Magpies, and also coaches the Tui alongside Valley and North Otago stalwart Abbey McKenzie.
Salter’s daughter, Rihi Schultz, plays goal attack or wing attack for the Magpies, former St Kevin’s College pupil Bethany Robertson is at goal defence, and Jennifer O’Connell, the rising star in her first year out of Waitaki Girls’ High School, is at goal shoot.
It was a significant win for the Magpies, who had been beaten by Phys Ed A in the first two encounters between the teams this season.
The North Otago connections are even more extensive in the Tui side.
Former Waitaki Girls’ players SJ Lind (GK), Lisa Fenwick (GK/C) and Nicky Wallace (GD) are all in the squad –¬†Wallace is also a present member of the Valley Gold team –¬†while two present members of the Waitaki Girls’ team, brilliant young shooter Taneisha Fifita and rising midcourter Caitlin
Judd, are also in the Tui.
Judd was in the thick of it when she was sent off for two minutes near the end of the game. Southern was leading by two goals at the time, but Albion closed the gap to force extra time.
The Tui, which had been beaten by Albion by 12 goals and 10 goals in previous games this season, showed composure in extra time to build a lead and hold on to it.
Valley Gold had to dig deep to finish strongly and retain its unbeaten record in the North Otago premier grade on Saturday.
The table-topping defending champion beat Athletic 31-26 after a magnificent final quarter.
Athletic, inspired by classy goal keep Lucy Taupo, led 8-7 after the first quarter, 15-11 at halftime and 22-20 after three quarters.
Taupo shut down the Valley shooting circle, especially in the first half, feasting on intercepts and turnover ball, while centre Mel Lewis controlled the game by working hard on defence and helping bring the ball through court.
Valley showed its experience and composure in the final quarter, winning it 11-4 to maintain its perfect record. Sarah Newlands (WD) was a shining light in the final quarter, putting extra pressure on the circle edge to make it hard for Athletic to feed its shooters.
Both Waitaki Girls’ High School teams had solid wins, Lightning Strike beating Valley Silver 47-30 and Wildfire beating St Kevin’s College Steel 42-28.
Alice Weir was dogged and determined on defence for Lightning Strike, which steadily built its lead over four quarters, while youngster Holly Beazer stepped up from intermediate grade to play well for Wildfire.
Excelsior recovered from a slow start to beat St Kevin’s Platinum 35-26 in the final game.
Waitaki Girls’ High School and St Kevin’s College are off to one of the biggest sports tournaments in New Zealand next week.
They both have high hopes of success at the South Island secondary schools netball championships in Nelson, starting on Monday.
Waitaki Girls’ is in A grade and opens with a game against Cromwell College, while St Kevin’s is in B grade and plays Papanui High School on the opening day.
North Otago juniors played well at the Dunedin representative tournament at the weekend. North Otago’s best were the under-15 and year 8 teams, both of whom finished third, out of nine and eight teams respectively.
The under-14 team was second in the B grade of its competition, and the year 7s finished sixth.