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Comets seal big win over Mainland in NNL

The Comets have set the pace early in the National Netball League (NNL) with two convincing wins, the latest over Mainland, confirming they will be the team to watch.

Led by a superb performance from midcourter Nadia Loveday, the Comets beat Mainland 52-34 at Pulman Arena in Auckland on Sunday.

It follows an impressive first-up outing against the Southern Blast last week and captain Chonaire Huriwai said she was pleased with the start to the season.

“We like to have a bit of fun but when we know we’ve got to perform we make that switch altogether at the same time and come out with some good energy and good intensity,” she said.

Loveday set the tone in the opening stanza as she dictated play up front with her drive into the pockets and effortless feeds into her shooters, her combination with goal attack Vika Koloto proving difficult to shut down.

The former Mystics midcourter, who was named player of the match, said she was enjoying being back on court and learning from former Silver Fern Temepara Bailey who is guiding the Comets this season.

“I’m really excited to be back out there,” Loveday said.

“(Temepara) was my idol growing up and the knowledge and experience that she brings into the team is really cool.”

Loveday led the way with goal assists and feeds as both she and Koloto ran the play on attack. An injury to Koloto in the last minute of play will be the only concern for Bailey moving forward in the NNL.

Only one goal separated the teams in the first quarter, 11-10 to the Comets, but it was the team in purple which already looked the more assured of the two sides.

The Comets superior accuracy in the shooting circle was also telling as the match wore on, the hosts building on a seven-goal halftime lead to have the game under control with a 37-25 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Defenders Nanise Waqaira and Lisa Putt put immense pressure on Mainland’s frontline, the latter finishing with an impressive four intercepts and six deflections from the game.

The Comets also dominated through the middle as they stymied Mainland’s ability to transition from defence onto attack.

But it was in the shooting circle where much of the damage was done with Koloto, Amelia Walmsley and Maine-Crystal Maro all producing a superior radar to Mainland, netting 52 of their 59 attempts at goal.

Mainland, who were playing their first game of the season, will be disappointed with their return in the shooting circle having put up just seven fewer attempts but with just 65 per cent accuracy.

Hannah Glen had restricted time in the shooting circle with an expected appearance in the ANZ Premiership later in the day.

But all three shooters, including Laura Mann and Fia Laikong, will be looking to improve their radar as the competition continues.

Meanwhile, in other Round 2 NNL matches the Southern Blast bounced back from a first round loss to beat the Northern Marvels 51-49, and the defending champion Central Manawa beat Waikato-BOP 54-40.