Western cruise to easy victory over Tasman
It didn't matter who Western had on court against Tasman on Saturday because they ran out convincing winners even with a revolving door on the reserves bench.
Western won 69-34 in their national competition match at the B&M Centre and coach John Atkins made sure his whole team got a run, making numerous substitutions.
All 12 squad members got court time in the big win over the South Islanders and even captain Erika Maifea came off the bench in the second half, a first for her.
"That's the luxury that we've got," she said. "We've got some really good young players. So a couple of them got an opportunity to start today which they haven't had for the last couple of games which was quite nice for them and they kept the standard up."
She said it was ideal to give the younger players an opportunity and was pleased they maintained the intensity despite the changes.
"Our team's been together for about three or four years. Everyone's quite good and [we] have developed combinations. I find that every week it's hard to single out a player because everyone's up at the same level."
The Tasman shooters looked good when they had the ball but did not have enough possession as the Western defence picked up any loose passes and forced errors.
"The first quarter was tight, Tasman are a pretty good team but probably their finishing off lacks a little bit, where ours is a bit more polished at this stage."
The Western attack did a great job as well, including Amber Bellringer who shot 29 goals from 29 attempts, as their midcourt, particularly Lauren Burgess, always managed to find a shooter in space.
The run of four straight wins had Maifea confident going into finals week in Tauranga next month.
"I think the previous scores against the other teams, Counties, they'll probably be a similar level to Tasman and Eastern. So I think we should be fine there and again we'll probably rest some of the core seven for that game."
One of the reasons for all the changes by Atkins was he wanted to trial different combinations and was happy they still won comfortably.
"That's certainly the way we want it to be," he said. "Seamless changes so it doesn't upset the team pattern which is what we're aiming to get. It didn't quite happen at the start of third quarter. It gives us something to work on."
Even though the score turned into a blowout, Atkins had a point as Western slacked off a bit in the second half, throwing passes that were never going to meet their targets and were turned over.
"The start of the third quarter was a little bit messy. But we managed to pull it back for the end of the third quarter and everybody got on court. So again it's preparing ourselves for Tauranga so everybody's had some court time."
Their final round-robin match is against Counties-Manukau on October 3 in Tauranga before they have a top-place playoff against North.
Western 69 (Chantelle Ngaia 28/30, Amber Bellringer 29/29, Rebecca Jury 12/18) Tasman 34 (Cara Wiapo 24/29, Courtney Clarke 5/5). Quarter scores: 17-11, 37-16, 51-23, 69-34.
Other results: Division 1: Otago 56 Canterbury 45 at Dunedin; Waikato 61 Auckland-Waitakere 48 at Te Awamutu; Bay of Plenty 37 Wellington 53 at Tauranga.
Division 2: Southland 41 North 48 at Gore; Eastern 37 Counties-Manukau 51 at Napier.