The latest news and updates from Netball New Zealand

Mainland and Manawa face off in title decider

Mainland coach Julie Seymour admits she gets nervous every time her phone goes in the build-up to the Synergy Hair Netball League Grand Final against Central Manawa on Saturday.

The two teams meet at Pulman Arena in Papakura after what has been a challenging Covid-impacted season and Seymour said she hoped to have a full, healthy squad available for the big match.

“We’ve got a couple of players who haven’t been affected by it (Covid) yet so it makes me nervous to look at my phone – it would be pretty cruel if they were robbed of this now after such a tough season,” she said.

Both she and Manawa coach Anna Andrews-Tasola agree this weekend’s final is an opportunity to celebrate netball in what has been a testing campaign – the match part of a bumper weekend of netball in Papakura with four ANZ Premiership games also to be played at the venue.

“We are incredibly grateful that we get to celebrate netball with Mainland this weekend, and for our athletes the chance to put in one final performance to be proud of,” Andrews-Tasola said.

The past two seasons had been “very very challenging” amidst a Covid landscape as players and staff managed full-time work or study along with their netball duties, she said.

“I think we have seen a new resilience from our group and it’s so rewarding for them to be able to play in this final – not just for themselves but also to bring a bit of joy to our netball community, it’s something we all need at the moment.”

Seymour said despite the challenges she had seen plenty of growth from her side over the past few months, particularly some of the younger players coming through from last season.

“It’s really nice to see how far they’ve come, especially those promising players that I saw flickers of what could be last year,” she said. “To see the way they have responded this year is encouraging for the future of these players.”

Both teams have lost just one match this season, Mainland going down in a thriller against the Northern Marvels while Manawa’s loss was at the hands of Mainland although Seymour expects the 17-goal difference to mean little when they match up in the final.

“They are a team we have plenty of respect for and it will be about absorbing that pressure in what is probably the biggest game many of these players have been involved in.”

This will be Manawa’s fifth appearance in a Grand Final since the national netball league was introduced in 2016 – winning successive titles between 2017 and 2019.

The boast plenty of experience through the court including captain Renee Matoe, shooter Grace Namana and defender Parris Mason but have also called on ANZ Premiership and Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley.

Mainland, who finished as top qualifiers by one point over Manawa, will play in their second Grand Final having met the Central side in the season decider in 2017.

They have also looked to their sister team during the season with Tactix attackers Hannah Glen and Vika Koloto appearing when available.

The Synergy Hair Netball League Grand Final between Mainland and Central Manawa will be played at Pulman Arena in Papakura at 12.05pm on Saturday, live on Sky Sport.