Valley too polished for Excelsior

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Excelsior provided plenty of opposition in its return to premier netball but defending champion Valley Gold was still good enough to win 42-31 on Saturday.
Valley always looked relatively in control, easing to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter, 20-14 at halftime and 34-23 at the three-quarter mark.
Centre Mikayla Cleveland was a livewire in the midcourt and struck up an excellent combination with goal attack Rihi Salter.
Excelsior, promoted the previous weekend after charging through the 1:2 grade unbeaten, put up a good fight as centre Kat Kawau drove hard through the court and goal shoot Suzy Oakes got into excellent positions in the circle.
Athletic got a good fright from St Kevin’s College Steel before posting a 35-28 win.
The Steel held a 10-8 lead after the first quarter but Athletic settled into its work for the rest of the game, leading 18-15 at halftime and 28-22 after three quarters.
Renee Webster (GA) and Jane Medlicott (GS) combined nicely in the shooting circle for Athletic, while Brytnee Firman starred for the schoolgirls at goal shoot with some sublime timing and shooting.
St Kevin’s Platinum rebounded from its loss to the Steel with a convincing 36-18 win over Valley Silver.
It was 7-7 after the first quarter but St Kevin’s turned up the defensive pressure over the final three quarters.
Laura Dowling led the Platinum side by example and played a full game at goal defence, not her usual goal keep, and both Georgia Oakes and Whitney Cleveland worked hard and picked up turnovers.
The all-Waitaki Girls’ High School game was a free-flowing encounter that finished in a 41-34 win for WGHS Lightning Strike.