Central confirm final spot heading into round nine national netball league clash against South

Netball South's Hayley Crofts, in green, challenges Central's Mila Reuelu-Buchanan for the ball in the national ...
Kavinda Herath/Fairfax NZ

Netball South's Hayley Crofts, in green, challenges Central's Mila Reuelu-Buchanan for the ball in the national development league competition..

Netball Central have booked their place in the national netball league top two, but the jostle for the second spot in the grand final continues to heat up.

The Natalie Milicich-coached side remains unbeaten on 28 points with just three matches left before next month's title decider to be played in Auckland.

They host Netball South at the Walter Nash Centre in Wellington on Sunday and with key players across the court continuing to show form, will be tough to topple.

Central Pulse defender Karin Burger has been in impressive form for Central in recent weeks picking up 15 intercepts and 11 deflections in the last three games.

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At the other end of the court Jermaine Howard-Vallance has been netting over 30 goals in her last three outings.

But it is also the mid-court where Central continues to stamp its mark led by Kimiora Poi and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.

South lost by 14 goals when the two teams met in round six, but were without shooter Jennifer O'Connell who showed last week she could make an impact at either end of the court.

Meanwhile, Hellers Netball Mainland needs victory in Nelson this weekend when they take on the Northern Marvels with a pivotal match-up against Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) also looming.

There are just four points separating the three teams with a further two points back to the defending champion South side.

The Marvels have won just two games – against South in round two and more recently against WBOP, but they remain in the hunt for a finals spot thanks to the three valuable bonus points they have earned for finishing within five goals, including the point they picked up against Mainland when they last met with just a one-goal difference between the two sides.

Mainland continue to adjust to life without key shooter Ellie Bird, who has made the step up to the ANZ Premiership, with new coach Peter McInnes looking to regular defender Kelera Nawai who spent some time in the shooting circle last week.

Goal attack Caitlin Dowden also made her debut in the national netball league last week in the unfamiliar role of wing attack.

The other Beko Netball League match sees WBOP meet the High Wire Trust Northern Comets in Cambridge on Saturday.

WBOP play the remainder of the league round-robin at home venues and will be looking to use that to their advantage as they push for a finals berth.

The grand final will be played at The Trusts Arena in Auckland on June 18.

At a glance

Netball WBOP v Northern Comets, Netball Central v Netball South, Netball Mainland v Northern Marvels.

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