Round two action in Marlborough netball's premier competition commenced at Blenheim's Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 last night, with the in-form sides picking up from where they left off in the first round.
Smog Bayleys withstood a tough challenge from Marlborough Girls' College Scaffold Marlborough in the opening match to eventually take the honours, 50-43. Although the victory was ultimately comfortable, the college side put up a stronger fight than when the sides met in round one, keeping the vocal crowd entertained.
In the other division one match, Central ANZ Men were not at their ruthless best but put together another slick performance to account for Harlequins Radich Law 66-39.
Harlequins Fairweathers were given a heavy workout against Pelorus Speight's Ale House in division two. After scoring a 28-point win over Pelorus just two weeks ago, Quins were made to battle all the way to register a tight 39-35 victory.
Meanwhile, Tokomaru Crafar Crouch made an emphatic return to form, beating the newly-promoted Harlequins BPC 79-23.
Smog 50 Marlborough Girls' College 43
As was the case the first time these sides met, the match was played at a frantic pace. Both outfits struggled to get their attack flowing smoothly early, perhaps unsurprisingly, as two of the competition's best defensive systems came head-to-head.
The first half was characterised by each team having scoring purple patches. Smog got off to an early 11-5 lead, before MGC scored seven consecutive goals to edge in front 12-11 early in the second quarter. Smog then scored 10 of the next 13 points, before good finishing enabled MGC to once again fight back and trail just 22-26 at halftime.
Although the see-sawing scoreline remained, Smog slowly gained ascendancy in the second half, consistent performers Melissa Brady at goal keep and wing attack Cara Wiapo beginning to dominate their respective ends of the court.
However MGC centre Kelsie Fitzpatrick combined well with the outstanding Paige Lovell, who handled the bulk of the shooting, to keep the college side in it, while MGC defensive duo TJ Power and Portia Barcello were outstanding, snapping up any loose ball and generally making life hard for their circle opponents.
The crucial third quarter went goal-for-goal, Smog taking a narrow 37-34 advantage into the deciding quarter and it was anyone's match.
The fourth quarter, however, belonged to the defending champs, who pulled away in the final minutes to deny MGC a bonus point and notch up their seventh win this year.
Central Men 66 Harlequins Radich Law 39
It was a tough start to round two for Quins, facing the only unbeaten side this year. Although the match started closely, it wasn't long before Central's quick passing and athleticism enabled them to establish ascendancy all around the court.
Some clever play and outstanding finishing within the circle by goal shoot Jared Lock and goal attack Luke Richardson kept the scorers busy. Lock finished with a near-perfect tally from 31 attempts, while Richardson scored an impressive 37 goals from 43 efforts.
However, Quins will take confidence from the fact they remained competitive throughout the match, the men unable to dominate as they have throughout the season.
Centre Bridget Gane once again played the facilitator's role comfortably, with goal attack Lauren Murray feeding off her providers to carry the bulk of the scoring, landing 29 of her 38 attempts.
Harlequins Fairweathers 39 Pelorus 35
Pelorus seem to save their best until round two, narrowly losing to a previously-superior side. Both teams were inseparable throughout the opening exchanges, resulting in a 10-all score line at the first quarter break. They went goal-for-goal for the vast majority of the second quarter, too, Quins taking a slight 19-17 lead into half time.
Quins goal attack Rebecca Eddie was very involved both in and around the circle, while Sandy Large had a strong game at centre.
Trailing by four going into the final quarter, Pelorus were unable to close the gap but did record a bonus point for finishing within five which could be crucial at the end of the round.
Goal attack Louise Waaka, with 18 goals from 25 attempts, was their best attacking option, while wing attack Hayley Warren produced another strong performance.
Tokomaru 79 Harlequins BPC 23
Perhaps stung by ending up in the second tier, Tokomaru registered a 56- point win, by far their biggest of the season.
Establishing a 16-7 lead at the first quarter break, Tokomaru scored the first six goals of the second quarter to show why they are division two favourites. Wing attack Laura Murphy was most influential in Tokomaru's attack, but it was their outstanding shooters that led the way. Goal attack Kate Gaudin scored an excellent 26 goals from 29 attempts, while goal shoot Bobby Childs netted a massive 53 goals from 65 shots.
The Picton-based side's confidence grew as the match wore on, the fourth stanza producing their biggest quarter winning margin, 24-6.
It was a tough introduction to premier netball for Quins, facing last year's championship finalists.
Goal defence Jodie Lang was energetic all night, effecting several good steals, while centre Laura Lovell-Sherriff worked tirelessly at centre.
- The Marlborough Express