Valley Gold sets standard

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Valley Gold continues to set the standard in North Otago premier netball, moving to a perfect 7-0 record and ending the first round at the top of the division 1.1 standings.

Waitaki Girls’ High School Wildfire is hot on the defending champion’s heels, having posted six wins and a loss, while Lightning Strike sits third with four wins, a draw and two losses.

In the last hit-out of the round on Saturday, cold and windy conditions proved a challenge for all netballers at the Taward St courts. Shooting percentages and passing accuracy was tested, with all teams having to keep their game play short and sharp.

Last-placed Athletic also had to fight for its place in the premier grade competition in a promotion-relegation game on Saturday afternoon, beating leading second-tier side Valley Bronze.

Points are wiped for the next round, which begins this weekend.

SKC v Kurow

Final score: 27-21 to SKC

Quarter scores (SKC first): 8-4, 16-7, 21-14, 27-21

St Kevin’s A capitalised on an inconsistent first half from Kurow, turning over a lot of ball and maintaining the lead for the rest of the game. Kurow made a late surge in the final quarter, capitalising on some nice turnovers, but was unable to catch the schoolgirls.

Hannah Cunningham played outstanding defence disrupting the Kurow shooting circle. Making the step up from Kurow B in 1:3, Oriagh Hanning shot well on debut.

WGHS Lightning Strike v Athletic

Final score: 31-26 to WGHS

Quarter scores (WGHS first): 7-6, 15-11, 22-17, 31-26

Athletic played with grit and determination on Saturday, preventing any Lightning Strike surge in the first half. Lightning Strike adapted to the gusty conditions faster and full-court pressure had the schoolgirls pulling away to a 10-goal lead in the fourth quarter. Wing defence Emily Weir turned up the defensive heat and goal attack Ryah MacLeod poured the shots in. Athletic captain Blaze Rooney (C) marshalled the troops well and was steady through court, stemming the flow of ball into the circle. Her side continued to battle, getting some nice tips and turnovers and reducing the schoolgirls’ lead to five by the final whistle.

Valley Gold v Maheno

Final score: 32-28 to Valley

Quarter scores (Valley first): 3-9, 15-13, 21-20, 31-28

Maheno showed good composure from the first whistle, with Nga Yaxley (GA) and Suzy Oakes (GS) slotting in nine goals in the first quarter, while competition leader Valley Gold could only manage three.

But the defending champion pulled off a massive comeback in the second quarter to claim the halftime lead 15-13.

At centre, Leeanne Mavor led from the front for Valley Gold, supported well by Petra Aspros (WA) who was on point feeding into the shooting circle. Mikayla Cleveland also played a tactical game of shutting down any Maheno player who put on the wing attack bib. Her opposite, Maheno wing defence Georgia Oakes, also brought the defensive heat.

Neither team gave an inch in the third quarter, going goal for goal in a thrilling game for spectators. In the final four minutes, Valley showed good composure, capitalising on some Maheno errors and taking the game 31-28.

WGHS Wildfire v Valley Silver

Final score: 32-19 to WGHS

Quarter scores (WGHS first): 6-4, 14-9, 25-12, 32-19

Determined to end the first round in second place, Waitaki Girls’ Wildfire found its groove from the first whistle and showed complete dominance over Valley Silver throughout the game.

Star goal attack Madaleine Mansfield was forced to leave the court early, but defender Maikale Fifita made a seamless switch to shooting. As always, Molly Hurst controlled the game beautifully and Charlotte Weir, Kira Mortimer and Lily Rawson created havoc on defence. The schoolgirls’ excellent connections and trust in each other on court was hard for Valley Silver to combat. Kate Macgregor led the team well at wing attack and Grace Firman was disruptive at wing defence.