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Maiden schools title for Howick

Howick College’s meteoric rise at the New Zealand Secondary School Champs has ended with their first national crown.

In what was their first appearance at the national netball event, the Auckland school beat Saint Kentigern 33-25 in an exciting grand final on Friday.

It was the second time the two teams had clashed at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua with just three goals separating the two when they met in the tournament opener earlier in the week.

Howick also won that match but were forced to come from behind in the grand final with Saint Kentigern gaining the early break.

Goal attack Ashleigh Garner led from the front for Saint Kentigern – sinking eight from eight in the opening spell – as her side held an 8-6 advantage at the first break.

But momentum swung after the whistles for the second quarter with Howick netting five unanswered goals, their resurgence spurred on by goal keeper Nanise Waqaira who snaffled two intercepts in the spell.

Shooter Leehava Saverio also came into the game netting eight from nine in the quarter as Howick closed the gap to one goal by half-time.

The arm-wrestle continued into the third quarter with Saint Kentigern netting two quick goals before Howick started to assert their dominance and it was the latter which went into the fourth spell with a two-goal advantage.

NZSS HUB: Final Results

Saint Kentigern coach Nicola Lewis made a change in the shooting circle for the fourth quarter with Garner swapping bibs with goal shooter Hannah Ward.

The switch made little difference as it was Howick which started the deciding spell the strongest with three straight goals giving it a sniff of victory.

The back three of Waqaira, goal defence Shalom Setu-Veve and wing Iva Livani combined well with the trio picking up five intercepts and nine deflections between them as they stifled Saint Kentigern’s flow up front.

Howick’s ability to share the shooting load again proved a strength to their game as they won the last quarter 10-4 to snare the spoils.

Meanwhile, Manukura finished a successful week with third place after beating Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 37-30.

A strong second quarter performance, where they outscored Epsom 15-6, set the Palmerston North school up for the win. Centre Braxton Te Rini was a stand-out in the middle for Manukura picking up five intercepts and feeding her shooters well.

Manukura were also bookended by strong showings from goal keeper Antonia Heihei who snaffled five intercepts and six deflections while shooter Rochelle Fourie netted 30 goals for her side and picked up five valuable rebounds.

Grand Final result:

Howick College 33 (Leehava Saverio 20/24, Lasalle Lefale 13/13) beat Saint Kentigern College 25 (Hannah Ward 7/9, Ashleigh Garner 18/24). Quarter scores: 6-8, 15-16, 23-21, 33-25.