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Central Manawa in emphatic form on home turf

Defending Beko Netball League champions Central Manawa have given a dominant and clinical display to beat Hellers Mainland, 57-32, in Palmerston North.

With captain Renee Savai’inaea in blistering form in the midcourt, Central could do little wrong, controlling every section of the court.

Aiming for a threepeat of titles, Central now have two wins from two – and are already appearing to be the team to beat this season.

It was a scrappy start, with both teams strong on defence throughout the court, disrupting their rivals’ attacking plans.

But Central’s shooters Saviour Tui and Monalisa Groom quickly established a natural rhythm, helping to put their side out to a 10-goal advantage.

Mainland, rallied by captain Nicola Mackle in the midcourt, staged a late surge just before the first break, reducing the gap to 17-9.

The visitors made changes at the break, jiggling their midcourt, and bringing Grace Namana at shooter for Jess Prosser – who hadn’t missed a shot, and worked hard, but found it difficult receiving ball. Her problem: Central goal keep Elle Temu, who was in blinding form, with a barrow-load of deflections, intercepts and rebounds.

Mainland made up more ground as the second spell started, scoring three goals before Central added any more to their total.

But it was the last time that Mainland truly put Central under pressure.

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Savai’inaea was the mastermind in the middle, whether at centre or wing defence. She got a hand to any loose ball in her sights, drove the ball through court, and fed Tui and Groom superbly, taking out the MVP award for the match.

Up 27-17 at halftime, Central coach Pelesa Semu wisely took the opportunity to bring all of her bench into the game.

Making her Beko Netball League debut, goal shoot Rochelle Fourie recovered from a wobbly start to shoot 22 from 29 in the second half. Maddy Gordon, who moves between Central Manawa and the TWOR Pulse, made her presence felt in the midcourt too.

Leading 40-26 going into the final spell, Central really put their foot down in the last 15 minutes, deny Mainland any chances, and taking out the quarter 17-6.