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Debutantes claim Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champs

A new game-plan and deep belief within the team propelled St Peter’s School, Cambridge to a Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champs on their first attempt.

The Cambridge school’s dream run at the national tournament continued when they toppled Saint Kentigern College 35-31 in Friday’s final at Saxton Stadium in Nelson.

The tournament debutantes went through the week unbeaten and upset the more fancied Saint Kentigern who had beaten St Peter’s when the two teams met last month in the regional event.

St Peter’s coach Te Aroha Keenan said they had done their homework on their Auckland opponent and put their plan into action in the national final.

“We absolutely dissected that game,” she said of the loss to Saint Kentigern last month. “And the girls took what they needed from that game to inspire them for this final.”

“Our game against them the last time was the motivation for this final – we were not going to be that team again.”

Captain Kataraina Ormsby said it was an “indescribable” feeling to have won the national schools crown.

“We were just happy to come here and show the rest of New Zealand what we could do,” she said. “Making history for our school….I’m speechless and just so proud of the girls.”

Ormsby said the regional tournament had been an “eye-opener” but gave them the belief that they could compete at the Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary School Champs.

It is the second national title for the school in as many weeks after the girls’ basketball team, which included four members of their school netball side, won the NZ Secondary Schools Basketball Tournament.

“I’m sure our school will be super proud,” Ormsby said.

St Peter’s showed few nerves despite playing in their first final and closed down key attacking play-makers for Saint Kentigern including midcourter Jaymie Kolose and shooter Harriette Baxter.

Wing defence Waiata Jennings stepped up well against Kolose and was also a driving force in bringing the ball through court on attack.

St Peter’s led 10-8 at the first break but struggled with their flow on attack mid-way through the second quarter as Saint Kentigern defender Lisa Putt came into play.

At the other end of the court, Jasleen Singh dominated the shooting circle and with Baxter also finding her feet, Saint Kentigern edged ahead 18-17 at halftime.

Errors up front proved costly for St Peter’s as they trailed by three goals but rallied to go into the fourth quarter with just a one-goal deficit.

The scores were locked at 26-26 with just under eight minutes to play but it was the calm heads of St Peter’s and patience with ball in hand that saw the underdogs pull away to lead by three with the clock counting down.

Defenders Katie Te Ao and Lucy Sidwell maintained their intensity throughout the match and picked up key turnover ball late in the game while both Atlanta Bruce and Charlisse Leger Walker shot well under pressure.

To see full results of the 2019 Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champs click here