Waikato suffered their first loss of the national provincial championship season, but will be buoyed by the way they footed it with two-time defending champions Canterbury yesterday.
Trust Waikato lost 50-47 in the round three contest in Christchurch, opening with a poor first quarter, before showing a spirited comeback against a side which is now unbeaten in 18 successive NPC games.
The hosts raced out to a 16-9 lead by quartertime, before Waikato took the second stanza 13-11 to trail 27-22 at halftime.
The visitors then won the third quarter 15-12, before Canterbury did enough in the last 15 minutes, winning it 11-10, to hold on to win.
Waikato coach Rebecca Gabel was left ruing a hesitant start by her side, where they took a while to adjust to the pace of the game.
They also ran a different lineup which took some time to gel.
Waikato began with Elsa Brown at goal shoot, Brooke Leaver at goal attack, Jessie Waitapu at wing attack, Elias Shadrock at centre, Jessica Tuki at wing defence, Rachael Fabling at goal defence and Jodi Beaumont at goal keep.
Leaver, who got on court for Waikato for the first time, was taken off midway through the first quarter, with Waitapu moving to goal attack and the other two midcourters forward a place for Alix Stevens to be introduced at wing defence.
But at quartertime Leaver was back out there, at goal shoot, as Brown was forced to come off, having struggled with sickness leading into the game.
From that time on, Waikato went unchanged, and Leaver and Waitapu shot superbly, landing 25 from 30 (83 per cent) and 19 from 20 (95 per cent) respectively.
However, Canterbury, led well by seasoned campaigner Anna Thompson at centre and boasting more ANZ Championship players than any of the other sides, were still too strong to topple.
Due to losing by five goals or less, Waikato picked up a bonus point to take them to seven competition points.
That puts them in third place after the weekend's results from other matches saw Wellington beat Otago 53-47 and Auckland-Waitakere defeat Bay of Plenty 51-48.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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