Waikato-Bay of Plenty have gone back-to-back in winning a second national under-23 netball title.
After taking out last year's inaugural tournament in Wellington with a one-goal win over South, the team today repeated the dose with a thrilling 60-58 victory over the same opponents at Dunedin's Edgar Centre.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty team featured six players from this year's Magic side - Sam Sinclair, Jamie-Lee Price, Malia Paseka, Brooke Leaver, Jo Trip and Katherine Coffin, while South had Steel representatives Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Stacey Peeters, Gina Crampton, Phoenix Karaka and Storm Purvis.
Earlier in the tournament Waikato-Bay of Plenty beat Australian invitational side State Institutes of Sport and State Academies of Sport 59-49, dispatched Mainland 77-44, lost to South 61-53, beat Northern 61-50 and hammered Central 81-55, to finish tied on points with South and Central, the latter missing out on goal differential.
The competition featured rule trials which the International Netball Federation is considering. It meant two-point goals for shots sunk from an outer circle marked 3.5 metres from the goal, along with 30-second injury stoppages and letting the centre take the centre pass with just one foot in the circle rather than both.
The two-point shots made for a gripping decider, with South storming back into the contest and leading by four after being down by 11, with an excellent third-quarter display seeing Selby-Rickit nail seven two-pointers and Kirsten Craig a couple.
The teams' shooting tactics were almost the reverse, with South netting 22/45 two-point attempts and 14/18 one-pointers, while Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Leaver and Paseka went 10/18 from range and 40/46 up close.
With a minute and a half left in the match Selby-Rickit netted another two, but that proved to be the last attempt of the match.
Meanwhile, the national under-19 tournament ran in conjunction with the under-23 one and also had the rule trials in operation. The competition was contested by centres rather than zones and over quarters of 10 minutes rather than 15.
Eastern Waikato went one better than last year in finishing second, losing today's final to Manawatu 51-41, having led by six in the second quarter.
The other team from Waikato - Trust Waikato Hamilton City - finished seventh after beating Dunedin 38-23 today.
- Waikato Times
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