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North Otago Netball organisers have made a big call after a tough and tight opening grading round on Saturday.

Nine women’s teams had registered in the premier grade, and the committee had planned to drop one team to 1:2 after three weeks of grading.

But North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald said the tight opening grading round proved no team deserved to be dropped.

The North Otago Men’s team would boost the premier grade to 10 teams, so there would be no byes or “double-headers”. Games against the men will not count for points.

Macdonald said it was an exciting opportunity for the centre, the premier teams and the men.

“It makes for a really tight, fantastic comp for the centre,” she said.

“We want the men’s team playing the girls teams when they’re at full strength, and they’re not on their second game. [The men] deserve a good hard game as well.”

The premier grade would no longer have grading – tomorrow would be used as a warm-up and the competition would start next week. Games against the men’s team would not count for points.

Across the other divisions, grading would continue.

There were also tight games in divisions 1:2, 1:3 and 1:4, and deciding which teams would drop grades would be tough, Macdonald said.

“The teams that miss out . . . [it’s] only going to be by one or two points – it’s really close.

“It’s good for netball overall, but there will probably be some teams that’ll be disappointed.”

If there were clear winners following tomorrow’s round, the other grades would also start their competitions next week. Otherwise, there would be another round of grading the following week, as planned, she said.

Junior netball will also make its long awaited return tomorrow. As a result of Covid-19, there was no junior netball last season and the players had come back in large numbers this year.

The centre had installed extra junior hoops at the courts to meet the demand.

“It is really, really nice to see that people still want to be involved, still have a go, and the wee ones want to have a go at learning to play,” she said.

Macdonald reminded all teams and players to be “up to speed” with all the centre’s information and rules so they were not getting surprises when they arrived at the courts.

Premier results

Grading day

Kurow A 22 v Maheno Rebels 24; Valley Karaka 48 v Athletic Maroon 18; St Kevin’s College A 26 v Waitaki Girls’ Wildfire 31; Maheno Green 37 v Waitaki Girls’ Lightning Strike 23; Valley Koru 31 v Maheno Rebels 18; Athletic Maroon 28 v St Kevin’s College A 32; Valley Koru 38 v WGHS Wildfire 37; Valley Karaka 33 v Maheno Green 30; Kurow A 26 v WGHS Lightning Strike 25.