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Quarter-final spots up for grabs at Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs

Hosts Christchurch A Red will be eyeing up a quarter-final spot at the Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs at Hagley Park after an unbeaten run on the opening two days but will have to beat its sister team to progress.

The Ashlyn Koce and Brianna Ferguson-captained side reached the championship post pool play in Christchurch on Tuesday with convincing wins over Tauranga (41-17) and Wairarapa (47-12) and will now meet Christchurch B Black which finished second in its pool for a place in the top 16.

Last year’s beaten finalists Wellington A Black loom as perhaps the team to beat at the four-day tournament however after dominating play in Pool B.

Coached by former Central Pulse assistant Pelesa Semu, Wellington backed up two big wins on the opening day with a 62-10 victory over Taranaki and kept Gisborne to single figures (44-9) to progress through to the top half of draw.

Netball New Zealand Emerging Talent Selector Robin Manihera said it was great to see a number of well-known coaches giving back to age-group netball with many young netballers from around the country the benefactors.

“We have so many great experienced coaches here who are giving their time for our next generation of players,” she said.

“There have been some really exciting games here today with teams pushing to make the top half of the draw and I’m expecting it to go up another level on Wednesday with a place in the quarterfinals up for grabs.”

The top 16 teams progressed through after two days of play and will meet in one post pool round to determine which sides go on to the quarterfinals.

Dunedin, who are being guided by former Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby, will take on Howick Pakuranga in post pool play having netted four wins to date while Invercargill meets Hutt Valley and Waitakere 2 faces a tough assignment against a Manawatu A Green team which upset seedings in round-robin play.

Manawatu, coached by Golda Smith and seeded third in Pool A, netted big wins over Mid Canterbury (64-6), Central Lakes (45-25) and second seeds Hamilton City B (51-22) to give it a shot at a top eight spot.

The defending champion Auckland 1 team were also untroubled on the scoreboard and will take on Eastern Bay of Plenty, while Hamilton City A was also unbeaten and meets Selwyn, who went through after a tense 25-20 win over Eastern Waikato, on Wednesday morning.

Two of the tightest pools included play in Pool G and Pool H with results in the last matches determining which teams went through to the top 16.

Eastern Bay of Plenty beat Pukekohe 33-29 to finish second in Pool H and set up a tough match against Auckland 1, while goal difference determined the winner of Pool G with Hawke's Bay edging through to take on the daunting task of Wellington Black.

The final of the Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs will be played at Hagley Park on Thursday, starting at 2.45 pm.
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