Pressure key to big premier one netball final

Close tussle expected

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014

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Tysons coach Ivy Topping usually errs on the side of caution when it comes to assessing her side's chances in any game.

Not so this week ahead of tonight's Taranaki premier one netball grand final against defending champions Inglewood at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth.

"We'll win. I'm reasonably confident," she said. "I think we've gradually improved as the season has progressed. We haven't had a really bad game."

Topping has good reason to be confident of lifting the title from Inglewood in the McDonalds Real Estate-sponsored final.

Two weeks ago, the Waitara side delivered a psychological blow when they beat Inglewood 45-31 in the clash between the two top qualifiers to earn a direct ticket to the grand final.

Inglewood, on the other hand, had to survive a sudden-death match against New Plymouth Old Boys last week, rebounding in style with a decisive 52-34 win.

"We've got no injuries, we haven't had any injuries all year," Topping said. "We had two light trainings in the week off, both optional. But this week it's back to normal . . . training Tuesday night, game on Thursday."

Topping said the players were looking forward to their first appearance in a grand final since they won the title in 2010 when they upset New Plymouth Old Boys 58-52.

"We struggled last year and managed to get fifth. We're a better balanced side this year, with a number of new players coming in," she said.

"We've got two good shooters, make that three. Our defence is strong and we're strong in the midcourt. Things are going well."

The new faces include former Raukura players Jane Parker and Connie McKenzie, Abbie Bailey-Nowell back after a year off, Harriet Hardy, Janelle Nicholls and former Pulse shooter Amber Bellringer.

Topping said she expected a tough battle from Inglewood.

"They're a good side. They've got strong players. I just question whether they're gelling as well as we are. It will definitely be our team effort that will see us through."

Inglewood are seeking their third straight title having beaten Raukura 52-38 last year and 51-34 in 2012.

"The girls really want it. They're raring to go. We had a great team activity on Sunday and it was practice as usual on Tuesday night," Inglewood coach Tracy White said.

"The game last week did us a lot of good. It was a good, hard game and we worked a few things out."

White said the loss to Tysons two weeks ago had hurt.

"We were well beaten. They put us under a lot of pressure and we made mistakes. We lost it ourselves. Last week, we got things together and played a much better team game."

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White said she expected a close tussle tonight.

"I expect it to go down to the wire. They've got strength through the court, but so have we. It will come down to pressure and who makes the least mistakes."

White said one player to have grabbed her chance this year was 17-year-old wing defence Katherine Banks.

"She's dogged. She just goes and goes and always gives 110 per cent. She's so coachable. Anything you ask her to do, she does. She just works hard and never gives up.

"She causes a lot of turnovers with pressure on the opposition. She's just so mature and doesn't get intimidated."

The two sides match up well and have been the two dominant sides this season.

Both have strong defensive ends - Parker and Bailey-Nowell for Tysons and Erika Maifea and Sam Burkhart for Inglewood. And both have strength in the midcourt - with the two Heidis controlling play - Heidi Kiser for Tysons and Heidi Smith for Inglewood.

The shooters also match up evenly. Tysons have McKenzie and Bellringer, with Jess Burkhart and Lana Rowland in the circle for Inglewood.

Both McKenzie and Burkhart can run hot, but they can also have off nights. It could come down to the accuracy of the goal attacks - Bellringer and Rowland - and which one handles the pressure best.

ROAD TO THE FINAL

Premier one
Semifinals: Tysons 45 Inglewood 31, NPOB 62 Naumai 48
Sudden-death: Inglewood 52 NPOB 34
Final: Tysons vs Inglewood

Premier two
Semifinals: NPGHS 54 Western Suburbs Havoc 30, Hawera HS 55 Stratford 38
Sudden-death: Hawera HS 59 Western Suburbs Havoc 50
Final: NPGHS vs Hawera HS

- Taranaki Daily News

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