Smog dominant in first-round victory

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 11:34 02/05/2012
netball
Harlequins 2 v Central Men. Shiloh Walsh

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If they had not done it already during grading, Smog Stainless Systems made it clear they mean business in this season's Marlborough premier netball competition as they hammered Wairau Jetz 88-26 in the first match of round one at Marlborough Lines Stadium last night.

Top seeds following two slick displays in their grading, the No1 Smog outfit have strength and speed right throughout the court and they put that on show as they completely dominated a helpless Wairau outfit from start to finish.

Smog SS's two major rivals, Central Men and defending champions Harlequins Radich Law, were not as convincing last night, but were still both victorious by considerable margins.

Central looked far better than their grading efforts as they beat a fighting Quins Two outfit 50-21, while strong second and fourth quarters enabled Quins RL to down Smog Two 55-23.

Smog SS 88 Wairau Jetz 26Anyone who watched grading would have known that Smog were going to be far too good in this one, but not many would have predicted victory by a monstrous 62-goal margin.

Led, as always, by captain and defender Melissa Brady, Smog had the foot down from the opening centre pass and had the ball whistling through the air down court and into shooters Gemma Hika and Cara Wiapo. Hika had already potted 30 goals when Smog led 44-12 at halftime, the tenacious and energetic Smog defence rarely let the ball enter their circle, and when it did they made life as tough as possible for the Wairau shooters.

Wairau had their best period of the match in attack and defence in the third quarter and there was a slight let up in the onslaught, but Smog still won the quarter 20-8 and normal service resumed in the final stanza as Smog piled on 24 more goals and allowed Wairau just six.

All eight Smog players performed well, but goal defence Brady was a standout who nabbed numerous intercepts, centre Kate Parsons played with typically high energy and the Hika-Wiapo combination shot well and constantly opened up space for one another.

Attacking midcourters Anna Thomas and Megan McKendry were industrious all night, while, in the second half, wing defence Bek Scherp and goal defence Leanne Guyton fought hard.

Central Men 50 Quins Two 21The new-look Central side let their superior pace and height do the talking in the first three quarters, meaning a less impressive fourth quarter became irrelevant.

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Central missed eight shots to Quins none in the first quarter, but at the first break Central's lead was already 10.

Lofty goal defender Josh Tapp was turning over plenty of ball at the defensive end and sharp midcourters Nick Rayner and Glynne Adams were quickly getting it down the other end and turning it into points.

That trend continued in the third quarter as young goal keep Harry Taylor got in on the act with several intercepts and goal attack Luke Richardson found his shooting groove.

At 41-13 at three-quarter-time the result was a foregone conclusion, but to their credit the young Quins side kept fighting and finished the match strongly as Central won the final quarter by just one goal.

Central centre Rayner and goal defender Tapp were the pick of the winning side, Rayner prominent with and without ball in hand. Taylor grew in confidence as the match progressed, while skipper Richardson shot consistently well.

Goal defender and captain Cathy Kitto led by example for Quins, followed closely by wing defence Sharae Sinclair and Simone Pedersen, who moved from goal attack to centre at halftime.Quins RL 55 Smog Two 23Quins were not as sharp as they would have liked in grading, and despite the 33-goal win there were still a few early season errors lurking about for parts of this one.

Both teams were careless with possession as the match got off to a scrappy start, but Quins eventually settled down and thanks to some accurate shooting they lead 15-7 at the first break.

The second stanza was all about an almost impenetrable Quins defence. In conjunction with wing defence Zoe Johnson, circle defenders Raramai Nicklin and Rachael Agnew allowed Smog just two attempts and the one solitary goal and at halftime Quins' advantage had pushed out to 21 goals.

A few smart changes by coach Alana Cairns meant Smog bounced back quickly and lost the third period by just two goals, replacement midcourter Emily May injecting some life into the attack and shooters Georgie Crawford and Anna Hewson finding their range. Once again though, the respite was only brief and the experience and ability of Quins showed as they took the margin past 30 goals in the dying stages.

The defensive duo of Agnew and Nicklin were outstanding for Quins, while all three midcourters, Johnson, Bridget Gane and Tash Ford, showed their class. New goal attack Anna Lee impressed with her general play.

Young Smog circle defenders Portia Barcello and Kate Hopai were again impressive against more experienced opponents, while May shone in attack and Crawford shot accurately when called on.

- The Marlborough Express

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