Jubilant player-coach Rihi Schultz believes Hanan Shield success proves North Otago has a vibrant club netball competition.
North Otago regained the coveted shield, competed for each year among three neighbouring provinces, with two contrasting wins at a tournament in Ashburton on Sunday.
A 62-44 shellacking of South Canterbury was followed by a 53-51 win over Mid Canterbury.
“I was really impressed with the team,” Schultz said.
“We all gelled very well considering we had little preparation and a lot of new combinations.”
Schultz also took great satisfaction out of the blend of the North Otago squad.
It feature representation from every club in the local premier grade: Two each from Valley, Waitaki Girls’ High School and Twizel, and one each from Athletic, St Kevin’s College and Maheno.
“I chatted to the physio of Mid Canterbury, and she told me that their team was mainly made up of one club. So that made me really proud that we had a team which represented our club competition appropriately.
“I’m really happy and impressed with our results, and I think that this reiterates how strong our club competition in North Otago is.”
North Otago actually made a slow start to the tournament, and trailed South Canterbury by two goals after the first quarter of the opening game.
But the hammer went down in the second quarter as North Otago poured in 23 goals to established a nice buffer that would not be relinquished.
Schoolgirl star Taneisha Fifita ruled the roost at goal shoot with nice feeding from Schultz, Rebecca McIntyre and Caitlin Judd, while Mel Smith and Nicky Wallace combined seamlessly at the back.
The second game was vastly different as a physical Mid Canterbury side managed to stifle North Otago’s flow.
North Otago won the first quarter by 12 goals but had to adjust as its opponent switched to man defence, and it took every ounce of the side’s composure to hold on for the win.