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Debutantes show mettle in Rotorua

There were no debutante nerves for Howick College as they upset the defending New Zealand Secondary School champions on the opening day of the national tournament.

In what was their first appearance at the national schools event, Howick came from behind to beat last year’s victors Saint Kentigern College, winning 30-27 at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua.

It was a low-scoring affair, turnovers proved critical in the fourth quarter with Howick goal keeper Nanise Waqaira snaring a valuable rebound and three deflections.

Wing defence Iva Livani did her best to disrupt Saint Kentigern’s attacking flow picking up three deflections and two intercepts during the game, while Howick also showed their superiority in snaffling rebounds picking up seven offensive and four defensive.

But they trailed by one goal going into the deciding spell before netting four unanswered goals after the break to signal their intent.

A higher penalty count also hurt Saint Kentigern whose shooting percentage dipped in a telling fourth quarter, sinking just three goals in the spell.

NZSS HUB: Draw and Results

The defending champions bounced back later in the day however with a convincing 30-goal win over Christchurch Girls’ High School while Howick proved they will be a team to watch after recording their second win, beating Palmerston North Girls’ High School 35-20, to lead Pool A.

There were mixed results for the tournaments other debutantes including Queen Margaret College who suffered a 27-39 loss to St Hilda’s Collegiate in their first game of the day, and later went down by one goal to Ashburton College, while St Paul’s Collegiate School beat St Andrew’s College 46-27. St Paul’s Collegiate also edged out Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 28-27 to shoot to the top of Pool D.

Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) and Manukura – who both finished in the top three last year – also picked up wins on the opening day.

MAGS, who have won the national title five times, showcased their defensive prowess with 11 intercepts en route to a 51-25 win over Ashburton College before beating St Hilda’s Collegiate School by 20 goals, to lead Pool C.

Manukura had a four-goal win over Waikato Diocesan School for Girls in Pool B and went on to beat St Margaret’s College (38-22) in the last round of the day to top Pool B.

The New Zealand Secondary Schools tournament continues in Rotorua tomorrow with the final to be played on October 13.