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Age-group teams lift for semi-final spots

There were few upsets as New Zealand’s top four Under-18 teams were found with Auckland 1 continuing its dominance in Rotorua and Wellington A Black emerging as a title contender.

Auckland 1, Wellington A Black, Hamilton City A and Waitakere 2 went through day three of the Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs unscathed to earn a place in tomorrow’s semi-finals at the Rotorua Netball Centre.

Inclement weather had been a challenge for a number of teams and more rain was expected for the semi-finals, although it was hoped to clear for the afternoon final where the country’s two top U18 teams would be playing for the Margaret Forsyth Cup.

Netball New Zealand Convenor of Emerging Talent Panel Adrienne Morrin said there had been a lift in intensity on day three in what were must-win matches.

“The weather was a little unkind today and levelled the playing field a bit,” she said. “There wasn’t the fast flowing game that some teams would have liked.

“But it was the sides that could lift under the pressure and Wellington Black was definitely a team that did that.”

In a tight and physical quarter-final against Invercargill, Wellington Black was able to convert key intercepts to help shift momentum late in the game eventually pulling away to win 26-14.

They had earlier beaten Eastern Bay of Plenty 32-26 to reach the top eight and will now face off against Hamilton City A in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Hamilton City, captained by Monica-Armani Faumui, maintained its unbeaten run at the four-day tournament with a comfortable 51-27 win over Wellington B Gold and a 30-20 victory over Dunedin to earn a place in the semi-finals.

Morrin said Auckland 1 would be the other team to watch on the final day of the tournament although their semi-final opponent, Waitakere 2, had already caused one upset to reach the top four.

Waitakere 2, coached by Diane Pakau, defeated Christchurch’s top team 34-27 to progress through having earlier accounted for Hutt Valley 31-23.

The region’s top side, Waitakere 1, were convincing 41-24 winners over Christchurch Black to reach the quarter-finals where they faced Auckland 1 with the latter claiming a comfortable 43-26 victory.

Auckland 1 had earlier got the better of the city’s number two side with a 44-13 win over Auckland 2 to reach the top eight.

Tomorrow’s semi-finals start at 10.25am with the Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs final to be played at 2.45pm.

  • Celebration Box Netball NZ U18 Champs semi-finals, 10.25am:

Auckland 1 vs Waitakere 2

Wellington Black A v Hamilton City A