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Central Manawa claim Synergy Hair Netball League title

A timely wake-up call just two weeks earlier, helped set Central Manawa up for their fourth national title with victory over Mainland in the Synergy Hair Netball League Grand Final.

Two weeks prior it was Mainland who came out 17-goal victors, but Manawa did their homework to turn the tables for a 49-41 win in the season decider at Pulman Arena in Papakura on Saturday.

The height of Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley along with the pinpoint ball delivery in the circle was one of the key differences this time round while the relentless defensive pressure, set up by an MVP performance from goal defence Parris Mason, disabled Mainland’s attacking prowess.

Mason said the loss a fortnight ago had been “a low” for her side but it was enough to ensure they worked hard leading into the re-match.

“I’m so stoked for the girls,” she said.

“We’ve been fighting all season – we were out there gunning for the win, I’m super proud.”

Mason said there had been plenty of learnings this season especially after their sole loss, to Mainland, which had been timely heading into the final.

“We went into that game too easy and it’s always great when you have a loss and go back to the drawing board and reflect on what’s been. That’s exactly what we did, and we went out there and executed all of our structures for the win.”

Early game jitters were scarce – neither team afraid to put in some long well-weighted passes into their shooters with both Mainland’s Hannah Glen and Walmsley sinking their attempts.

The early arm-wrestle continued well into the opening quarter but it was Manawa to make the most of a missed Mainland goal to edge ahead by three – the height of Walmsley a strong target at the back coupled with the quick ball delivered from Renee Matoe spearheading the attack.

The strong defensive efforts from both sides – Mainland’s Lily Marshall picking up one clean intercept and Manawa’s Danielle Tafili hunting for ball – saw play swing from end to end but it was Manawa which went into the first break with a 12-10 lead.

Mainland made one change heading into the second quarter with Lose Faingaanuku coming on to replace Julia Wynands at goal keeper in a bid to shut down Walmsley.

The red-and-blacks showed good speed with the ball through the court but the final pass into the shooting circle was often their undoing as Manawa again grabbed the advantage early in the spell, leading 17-13.

It prompted another change with Ashleigh Poi replacing Jenna Barrett at centre as Manawa’s defensive unit continued to tighten the screws – Mason getting her hand to plenty of ball.

And with the connection at the other end of the court into Walmsley only getting stronger it was Manawa with jumped out to a telling buffer, leading 26-20 at halftime.

Mainland coach Julie Seymour asked for some “belief” from her charges as play resumed with attacker Vika Koloto joining her Tactix team-mate Glen in the shooting circle.

Hesitation from Mainland’s frontline continued into the third stanza as Manawa’s defensive unit confused the space to turn the ball over.

Manawa coach Anna Andrews-Tasola also went to her bench with Matoe returning to the court but in place of Grace Namana at goal attack.

By now Manawa had well and truly found its groove as the lead ballooned out to 41-29 with one quarter to play.

Mainland gave one final push in the fourth quarter with Gemma Etheredge moving back to goal attack and Jess Allan coming on at shooter in an attempt for more options up front – the score closing to eight – but the relentless defensive pressure ensured Manawa maintained it’s healthy lead.