Northern Comets fight hard for Beko Netball League draw
A compelling fightback from the Northern Comets to snatch a draw in their Beko Netball League season opener has earned high praise from captain Chonaire Huriwai.
They came from five goals down in the fourth quarter to draw 49-49 in an all-Auckland affair against the Northern Marvels at The Trusts Arena on Sunday.
Huriwai, who captained the side from wing defence, said she “couldn’t be happier” with her team’s ability to claw back the deficit in the deciding spell.
“We were a bit slow to start off with,” she said. “But we came off each quarter really wanting to pick up that intensity, pick up that urgency and I think we were able to build on that throughout the match.
“The fact that when we were down we could keep fighting back and could really claw back those mistakes that we made earlier was so pleasing.”
The Marvels led at each break with their attack line the first to find their rhythm, and with a faultless performance from goal shooter Christie Anderson in the first quarter, the Marvels enjoyed an 11-6 advantage.
Comets coach Vicki Morgan turned to her bench for the second spell with wing attack Lahaina-Lee Upu-Toparae joining Christie Oscar who moved to centre.
But it was the positional switch in the shooting circle which made the most impact with Filda Vui, who was later named player of the match, well suited to the goal shooter bib.
Vui proved an easier target in the circle and she went on to net 87 per cent of her attempts at goal including the goal which levelled the scores in the last seconds of play.
The Comets kept their composure as they were forced to fight back from a seven-goal deficit in the third quarter.
The Marvels were bookended by two strong performances from goal keeper Antonia Hei Hei and shooter Christie Anderson while mid-courter Sally Hemahema was also a rock on defence.
But a determined Comets side rallied strongly in the deciding quarter with more changes from Morgan again sparking her side into action.
They trailed 36-41 going into the fourth spell with the steady head of Kirsten Hurley returning to court in the centre bib and the dynamic Christina Oscar moving to wing attack.
The changes again worked well as the defensive end stepped up the intensity to hunt for ball while the Comets front line found Vui in the shooting circle.
Huriwai was also busy in the final minutes as she worked hard to disrupt the Marvels flow as the minutes counted down.
Meanwhile, Waikato-BOP beat South 47-39 after leading by three goals at half-time while Heller’s Mainland beat the defending champion Central 52-49 in Porirua.
Northern Comets 49 (Filda Vui 45/52, Lahaina-Lee Upu-Toparae 1/4, Eseta Autagavaia 3/9) drew with Northern Marvels 49 (Christie Anderson 27/34, Meretini Fuimaona 16/27, Tamara Leoni 6/8).