Tense struggle for spot in final
Inglewood comes out on topMURRAY HILLS
Inglewood advanced to the Taranaki premier one netball grand final at the expense of defending champions New Plymouth Old Boys last night.
In a tight, winner-takes-all semifinal at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth, Inglewood came out on top 44-42 to book a spot against Waitara side Raukura in next Friday's grand final.
The two-goal winning margin flattered Old Boys who had been behind for most of the match.
Inglewood took the first quarter 13-11, coming from 7-4 down early on, and then claimed the second quarter 12-9 to lead 25-20 at halftime. The sides shared the third quarter 10-10, with Inglewood pushing their lead out to seven goals midway through the fourth quarter.
Then things threatened to go pear shaped for last year's beaten finalists. Their lead was trimmed to four, then three, then two, with less than five minutes to play.
But that was as close as Old Boys got, with Inglewood pulling off a couple of key intercepts late in the piece to stem the bleeding.
"I'm happy this week," Burgess and Crowley Inglewood coach Tracy White said. "The girls went out and played really well as a team. They're all knackered now, look at them. They gave it everything. Lauren [Burgess] was sick on Tuesday and she's completely drained."
White said it was nice to finally put out a complete performance on court. "We stayed composed, even in the last quarter. We got the bonus balls, a couple of crucial intercepts."
Crowded House Old Boys coach Leanne Matuku wasn't so happy with her team's performance.
"Unforced errors cost us the game. Inglewood are quite smart at playing the clock. We made errors and the rest is history," she said. "We had a bit of a run at them, but unfortunately it wasn't to be and we won't be in the finals. My money is on Raukura, they're the form team."
If there's one area Inglewood need to focus on before their showdown with Raukura, it's their shooting.
They dodged a bullet last night with some mediocre work under the hoop, missing shots resulting in a drop of confidence. While Wendy Williams was reasonably consistent, fellow shooter Jess Burkhart went from good to bad and back again. Inglewood will need both on target next week.
Player of the match was Inglewood wing attack Erika Maifea.
Western Suburbs Havoc will meet New Plymouth's Sacred Heart Girls' College in the premier two grand final.
Havoc booked their spot with an easy 53-33 win over Hawera side The Locals in the early match last night.
The New Plymouth side led 24-21 at halftime, then turned up the heat with a third-quarter blitz to shoot to a 40-26 lead heading into the final quarter. There was no letup in intensity, with Havoc taking the last quarter 13-7 to issue a clear warning to the school side.
"The girls played really well. It was close until halftime and our fitness got us through," said Matuku who was at goal attack for Havoc.
Player of the match was Havoc's Tania Kahu.
Is Ma'a Nonu returning to the Hurricanes ...Related story: Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed