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Central Manawa return to NNL winner’s circle

The defending champion Central Manawa have bounced back in the National Netball League with an explosive third quarter paving the way to their second win of the season.

They came from behind to beat Southern Blast 49-43 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua with a strong defensive and shooting display in the third spell cementing the win.

Manawa defender and player of the match, Abby Erwood, said it was a great win after the disappointments of their Round 3 match against the Northern Marvels which resulted in a hefty loss.

“It was a really good game out there and for me it was good to get 60 minutes under my belt,” she said.

“After our last match we really just wanted to put out a full court performance and we did that so we’re happy with that win.”

Blast captain Laura Overton said her side “took their foot off the pedal” in a tough third quarter which proved their undoing in a tight match.

“I think after that first half they really put their foot down and we needed to adapt a bit quicker,” she said.

Both teams opted for the short ball through court early in the game as they struggled to break through the structured defensive patterns of each side.

The Blast was the first to make a move on the scoreboard opening up a four-goal lead with five minutes left in the opening quarter, leading 13-9 at the break.

It was an advantage they held for much of the half – thanks to the accurate shooting of Grace Namana who missed just one of her 20 first half attempts – until Manawa took advantage of a couple of key offensive penalties.

The hosts trailed 23-24 at the main break and the arm wrestle continued early in the third quarter as the teams went goal for goal.

But a string of four goals from Manawa five minutes into the spell saw momentum shift as they were able to capitalise on their defensive turnovers – led by goal keeper Caitlin O’Sullivan – to turn their one goal half-time deficit into a 38-32 lead with one quarter to play.

Manawa turned to their bench in the final quarter with ANZ Premiership players Parris Mason and Paris Lokotui both returning to the court – the former making an immediate impact with an intercept to help her side extend their lead.

Lokotui switched into the wing defence bib, having filled in at centre earlier on, and showed great vision up court and into the circle as Manawa looked to drive the advantage home.

But three quick goals to the Blast kept the pressure on the hosts who had to work hard until the final whistles.

The calming presence of Jazz Scott through the middle helped Manawa keep its composure with the centre delivering clean ball into both Bianca Nagaiya and Grace McLean in the shooting circle.

Meanwhile, in the other NNL Round 5 match the Northern Marvels beat Waikato-Bay of Plenty 68-52 at the Auckland Netball Centre in Auckland.