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WBOP attacker back in action for win

WBOP's Sydney Fraser returns to the court in the Beko Netball League

Young Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) attacker Sydney Fraser marked her return to the Netball court by helping her side to an important Beko Netball League victory.

WBOP led from start to finish for a 63-53 win over Netball South at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua on Sunday night.

It was a key result for them as they keep the pressure on league frontrunners Netball Central and Hellers Netball Mainland to push for a spot in next month’s grand final.

For Fraser it was a chance to get back on the Netball court after eight months rehabilitation from an Achilles Tendon injury.

The goal and wing attack is a member of the WBOP Magic side but the injury late last year robbed her of any time in the new ANZ Premiership so far this season.

Fraser, who was named last night’s most valuable player, was thrilled to return to the game through the Beko Netball League where she teamed up with her former school team-mate Amorangi Malesala.

“It’s so good to get back on the court again after eight months off,” she said. “It feels so good to get back with her (Malesala).”

Fraser started the game at goal attack as the hosts dominated the opening minutes to race to an 8-1 lead.

It was a nervous-looking South side which took the court as the unforced errors mounted in the opening quarter. They were hesitant with ball on attack, allowing WBOP defenders to pounce.

WBOP captain Micaela Ashford was delighted to walk away with maximum points and put it down to her charges “backing each other up”.

“It means a lot,” she said of the victory. “We’ve had a couple of losses that we’ve really learnt from and it’s really good to see the girls pull themselves up, pull themselves together and get the win.”

WBOP led 29-23 at the main break which prompted South coach Georgie Salter to make a surprise positional change with shooter Jennifer O’Connell moving to the other end of the court into the goal keeper bib.

The long reach of O’Connell did little to halt the accuracy of WBOP shooter Amorangi Malesala as the hosts opened up a 10-goal lead.

Patience proved key for WBOP’s frontline against the taller South defensive unit but Dawn Wakelin and Ali Wilshier worked tirelessly around the circle, waiting for the gaps to open up.

Young goal attack Te Awa Gerrard-Nicholas also made an impression coming on in the second half as WBOP held on to a five-goal lead going into the final quarter.

South pushed hard in the fourth spell as they came within two goals with five minutes to play. However WBOP absorbed the pressure to take the win.

Meanwhile, in other matches Central opened their lead on the points table with a 57-39 win over Mainland in Ashburton on Sunday with a dominant third quarter effort paving the way to victory. The other Beko Netball League match produced the first draw of the season with the Northern Marvels finishing strongly to level the scores 53-53 with the High Wire Trust Northern Comets.