Jacks bowl Smog SS in Tasman Trophy
For the first time in the Tasman Trophy combined netball competition's three-year history, major honours in grade one have not been claimed by a Marlborough team.
In the inaugural year of the competition in 2010, it was Smog who won and last year Harlequins were victorious, but yesterday that run ended as No 1 Nelson side Jacks OPD comfortably dispatched their Marlborough counterparts Smog Stainless Systems 62-43 in the title decider at Saxton Stadium.
Following the final, Waimea College made it two titles for the Nelson sides as they beat Stoke 56-43 to claim the grade two title.
Condensation in the Nelson College for Girls gym forced four games to be moved to the bottom court at a Saxton Stadium that was already packed with 26 under-15 basketball teams.
The incessant thud of a thousand basketballs couldn't knock Jacks off their stride, though, and nor could a Smog SS side that looked severely under the weather.
Disruptions, injuries and sickness combined to thwart Smog's hopes of repeating their first round win over Jacks in Blenheim, but a dismal 62 per cent shooting record wasn't going to cut it.
Both sides put up close to 70 shots, but at the Jacks end Ani-Marie Waitai and Leanne Cook combined to shoot 91 per cent with the composed Waitai shooting 41 from 44.
Smog had their best quarter in the first despite a series of turnovers that allowed Jacks to score the first five goals. Smog goal attack Cara Wiapo more than made up for the wayward shooting with an ability to out-jump her opponents for the rebound and they went into the first break at 13-12.
From there Smog seemed to run out of steam and in spite of the strong defensive work from Melissa Brady, Chace Wratt and Jaimee Power, Jacks continued to extend their lead.
There was a recognisable lift in intensity in the second, but Jacks had started to play a patient short game, biding their time to feed into their shooters as they pushed out again to a 31-23 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Jacks began to do it easily. The speed and stamina of centre Jodi Hikuroa was unmatched by anyone on court and that was backed up by Phillipa Dean and Louise Monge-Grassi at the defensive end.
Smog was forced to make changes to their shooting end, moving Karli Hopkins into goal attack and Wiapo into goal shoot. The changes didn't come off as Smog netted only half of their attempts and by the final break Jacks led by 15, 47-32.
Jacks had already been made aware of Smog's ability to come back to steal victory and the final quarter from Smog saw an upswing in pressure and an improved shot percentage.
But as Jacks have done all season in the Nelson premier grade, they adjusted to match their opponents. The upshot was, although Smog were playing better netball, Jacks held on and pushed the winning margin out to 19.
Jacks coach Robyn Leonard said that although her team hadn't made a big deal in the build-up, the win was certainly something worth celebrating.
"We didn't put a huge lot of pressure on about Tasman Trophy, until Friday when I read it in the paper and thought, this is something we want.
"When we played them last time we were up and they just came back and slaughtered us, so we were never comfortable. But I didn't expect it to blow out that far."
Smog entered the match with a team full of the flu, but coach Di Saul would not offer that as an excuse. When asked about the fitness of her team Saul quipped that even though they played like it, they hadn't been out clubbing the night before.
"Everyone thought we had been out the night before but we hadn't. They [Jacks] were a lot sharper, we were just a bit heavier on our feet.
"We had a lot of changes and the girls adapted to that well. Everyone that was here fronted up and Jacks is a very polished side - we had to be at our best to beat them. It was a shame we couldn't give them a tighter game."
On the first day of competition Jacks had made the final by beating defending champions Harlequins Radich Law 70-57, while Smog got through courtesy of a 56-48 win over Richmond Robbies Bar & Bistro.
In the second tier final, Waimea College Senior A took out the first three quarters to beat Stoke NBS for the second time this season and pick up the Tasman Trophy title in their grade.
Meanwhile, round three of the Marlborough premier competition gets under way at Marlborough Lines Stadium tomorrow night. Central take on Wairau in the 6pm game, while Quins RL face Quins FW at 7pm and Smog SS are up against Smog Two at 7.45pm.
- The Marlborough Express
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