Netballers look for improvement

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 09:49 04/07/2012

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Ninth place and an improvement on last year's result remains a possibility for the Tasman under-19 netball team after they collected a win and a draw on day two of the National Age Group Champs in Auckland yesterday.

In the morning, Tasman convincingly beat Howick-Pakuranga 41-23 to secure third spot in pool C, while in the afternoon the Marlborough-Nelson combined unit fought out a 30-30 draw with Auckland Two in their first cross-over match. A win against Western in their only match at 6pm today would put Tasman in the playoffs for placings 9-12. There are 15 teams in the under-19 division.

After two close losses on day one, Tasman coach Robyn Leonard said it was a nice feeling to start with a win yesterday.

Leonard said her team were consistently better than Howick-Pakuranga and gradually pulled away as the match wore on. The most pleasing aspects were the strength of their man-to-man defence and the fact the players who did not play well in the second quarter meltdown against Bay of Plenty on Monday stepped up.

Although it was largely a top team effort, Marlborough shooter Lauren Murray impressed in attack and shot at 87 per cent. Defensively, Ashley Laing was strong at goal defence, while Marlborough goal keep Portia Barcello was a standout for the third game running.

Tasman had their noses in front from midway through the first quarter against Auckland Two, but the home side drew level early in the final stanza. Both sides had an opportunity to pot the winning goal in the final minute, but neither was able to convert.

Leonard described the match as a full-on 40 minutes and said it was tight all the way. And while it was disappointing not to win, a draw was not an unfair result. The same seven players played the whole match for Tasman and Leonard said they didn't take their foot off the gas at any stage. As long as they beat Western tonight, the tie would not affect their chances of placing ninth.

The defence was once again to the fore for Tasman and once again it was Barcello who led the way, despite being up against taller shooters. Goal defence Rosa Edwards, wing defence Laing and centre Ella Marwick also had strong defensive games.

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- The Marlborough Express

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