Strong start for some at Pita Pit NZSS Netball Championships

Netball New Zealand

Former champions Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) have made their intentions clear from the opening whistles of the Pita Pit NZ Secondary School Championships.

The five-time champion school mean business after netting two emphatic wins on the first day of the national netball event at Southern Trust Events Centre in Timaru.

MAGS opened its campaign in convincing style with a 56-27 victory over St Hilda’s Collegiate which it backed up later in the day by beating Villa Maria 54-28.

They have kept their opponents to single digit figures in all eight quarters contested while at the other end of the court, both Sharne Pupuke-Robati and Crystal Maro had their shooting radars finely tuned missing just seven goals between them in two games.

Defender Ruby Young also showed her all-round abilities when snaffling three intercepts with the goal keeper bib on against St Hilda’s before slotting nine from 11 attempts at goal when switching to goal attack in the fourth quarter.

MAGS, who last won the Pita Pit NZ Secondary Schools title in 2015, now take on Wellington East Girls’ College in their final pool match before teams are split into the top and bottom eight.

Victory will secure them top seeding from Pool C, but they take on a Wellington East Girls’ side desperate for a win to push them also into the top eight.

Meanwhile, defending champions Howick look destined to slip into the bottom eight of the draw after suffering two defeats on day one.

They will be left ruing a poor fourth quarter against New Plymouth Girls’ High School, losing their tournament opener 18-26.

Just one goal separated the two teams heading into the deciding spell but four unanswered goals gave New Plymouth a sniff of victory and they surged ahead to take control.

Wing defence Brooke Neilson proved influential through the middle picking up three intercepts in the final quarter and her combination with goal defender Parris Mason starved Howick scorers of ball.

The second loss may hurt more for Howick however, after being pipped by a solitary goal against Westlake Girls’ High School.

The scores were locked at 17-17 at the main break before Westlake Girls’ grabbed a two-goal advantage heading into the final quarter.

The two teams went goal-for-goal in a tense fourth spell but Howick was unable pull in its opponent, eventually losing 32-33.

It was Westlake Girls’ second win of the day after earlier accounting for Southland Girls’ High School 42-27 and they remain unbeaten in Pool D alongside New Plymouth Girls’ High School.

Saint Kentigern College have also made a strong start to the four-day event with a 43-26 win over Manukura and a 45-28 victory over Sacred Heart College late in the day to lead Pool B.

Epsom Girls’ Grammar School is also well placed to top its pool (A) heading into the second round of play.

The Waana Araroa-coached side netted two wins on day one with a 40-33 win over Hamilton Girls’ High School and a 47-28 win against Nelson College for Girls.

The Pita Pit NZ Secondary School Championships finish in Timaru on Friday when the tournament final will be played.

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