Title threepeat no given as Craighead head for champs
Craighead Diocesan School netball coach Barry Tucker knows his team have targets on their collective backs, and he welcomes it.
Of all the South Canterbury sports teams heading away to Secondary School Tournament Week on Monday, no-one has more pressure on them than the two-time defending South Island secondary schools netball champions.
Tucker's team will look for a threepeat of titles in Dunedin starting on Monday.
It has not been the smooth leadup as many expected.
Craighead lost to Christchurch's St Margaret's College a month ago and while they cruised to another South Canterbury premier grade title a fortnight ago, they were not as clinical as they had been in recent years, with turnovers their main concern in the 42-16 triumph.
"That (St Margaret's College) loss was the wake-up call we needed," Tucker said.
"The girls were cruising in their games in South Canterbury so it was a chance for them to refocus.
Tucker said being the team to beat was something he enjoyed.
"I think it's a good thing.
"Firstly, all the teams are going to step up their game when they face you which is good for us because we always want to be challenged.
"Secondly it often comes down to belief that you can win (close games) and we have that."
Tucker said he was concerned how his players would react if they failed to win the tournament.
"All the girls want to win, but I'm not sure how they will handle it if they don't."
He said he would look to tinker with all three areas of the court throughout the week, however ,the shooting combination of New Zealand age-group representative Alice Eddington and goal attack Harriet Robb look settled.
Ashley Tweed could see some game time in the midcourt, while there could be role changes for the defensive trio of Emily Coughlan, Goergia McRae and Dana Mulcahy, depending on the opposition and whether height or speed is required in the defensive circle.
"We have so many combinations though court that I am comfortable with whoever we have out there."
With two games a day, it was likely most of the 12-strong squad would get court-time, including year 9 shooter Maddie Lysaght, who Tucker described as "fearless".
Craighead have been grouped with Rangiora High School, Christchurch Girls' High School and Dunstan High School, Roncalli College and Geraldine High School.
will also be in the A grade competition.
Opihi College, Timaru Girls' High School, Mackenzie College and Waimate High School will be in the B grade and Mountainview High School will be in the C grade.
- © Fairfax NZ News