Victory puts Southland in battle for third
Southland delivered their most polished performance of the national championship season in a 59-32 rout of Tasman in Tauranga yesterday.
The maroons have found it difficult to string four quarters of consistent netball together this season, but produced their best showing of the campaign, to easily account for their opponents.
Southland will aim to secure third place in division two when they take on Counties-Manukau in the playoff for third and fourth today.
After leading by five goals after 15 minutes, Southland broke clear of Tasman in the second quarter, outscoring them 17-8, to build a handy 14-goal halftime advantage.
Southland have been guilty of relaxing when holding a lead this season, but refused to let up after halftime. They limited Tasman to just four goals in the third quarter, while scoring another 16 themselves.
With Southland comfortably ahead on the scoreboard, coach Reinga Te Huia was able to get all five reserves out on court during the second half.
Southland needed a powerful fourth quarter effort to subdue Tasman, when they met in Nelson last month, and Te Huia said yesterday's win was a vast improvement.
"We had a good team effort with our defence. Everyone was working hard to turn the ball over.
"It showed right from the attack through to the defensive end."
Southland did a far better job of cherishing possession yesterday, after committing a whopping 30 turnovers in their win over Eastern on Wednesday.
Te Huia heaped praised on experienced midcourters Hayley Crofts and Hayley Saunders, who have been standout performers for Southland this season. Wing attack Crofts had a top game for Southland, handing out 24 assists, and also generated several turnovers with her nagging pressure on defence.
Young shooter Sarah Hayman, who joined Southland after missing out on a place in the Canterbury team, was outstanding in front of goal again, converting 37 of her 39 opportunities.
Hayman has been one of the most accurate shooters in the NPC competition this season, and Te Huia gave her credit.
"I think [New Zealand trans-Tasman franchises] should be looking at her.
"She's definitely one to watch. I think she'd have to be close [to a contract]." Kendall McMinn and Sara Bartley formed a strong defensive partnership in the first half, while Lucy Robins, Rachael Fahy and Tegan Hunt continued their good work after being inserted into the game after the halftime break.
Southland will be out for revenge against Counties-Manukau today, after losing to them earlier in the season in Gore.
Te Huia said they played poorly in that game and were determined to redeem themselves and snatch third spot in the division.
"We're looking forward to having another crack at them and showing we're much better than what they've seen."
Southland 59, Tasman 32. Quarter scores (Southland first): 15-10, 32-18, 48-22, 59-32.
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