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Hunt on for top eight at Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary School Netball Champs

Last year’s runners-up Westlake Girls’ High School has made a strong start in search of a maiden crown with two straight wins to open their 2019 Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary School Netball Champs campaign.

The Auckland side, which is guided by former Silver Fern April Ieremia, netted victory over both St Hilda’s Collegiate and 2017 Champions Howick College on the opening day of the school tournament at Saxton Stadium in Nelson.

They are well placed to qualify for post pool play as the top ranked side in Pool D with Napier Girls’ High School their last hurdle before the top eight are found.

Spearheaded by defender Rachael Webster at the back, Westlake produced a telling third spell to beat a determined St Hilda’s Collegiate side 40-27.

Only three goals separated the two at the main break but Westlake outscored their opponents 7-2 early in the third quarter to give them the winning edge.

Westlake was relentless on defence, both inside and outside of the circle, while also showing an ability to score quickly at the other end of the court with their midcourt using great length in their delivery to an accurate shooting circle.

Westlake backed up against Howick in the afternoon with a 38-25 win to put it in the box seat after day one.

The race for second place in the pool remains tight with St Hilda’s and Howick to go head-to-head to determine which side progresses to the top half of the draw.

Both teams suffered losses to Westlake but also registered narrow wins over Napier Girls’ High School to sit on four points apiece ahead of their final pool match.

Meanwhile, Christchurch Girls’ High School also opened their campaign well with a 37-34 win over St Mary’s College of Wellington and turned on a strong first half performance against St Peter’s School before falling 29-43 in the Pool C clash.

They will now need to beat fellow Christchurch school, St Margaret’s College, on Wednesday morning to progress to the top eight and hope St Mary’s are unable to topple St Peter’s School, which is well placed to qualify in top spot.

Villa Maria College, also from Christchurch, faces a key game against Avondale College to determine which side moves ahead from Pool B.

Both sides suffered a loss to the top-ranked Manukura but gained four valuable points with wins over Samuel Marsden College to setup a must-win encounter against each other.

Pool A has been dominated by Saint Kentigern College which notched up a big 53-22 victory over Ashburton College having earlier beaten a tenacious Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 34-22.

Epsom Girls’ however looked well placed to contest the top eight where a win over Ashburton College on Wednesday morning would see it progress.