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New Zealand’s best target National U19 crown

Netball NZ’s U19 heavyweights have flexed their muscles in Invercargill but the true test will come over the next two days as the national tournament moves into post-pool play.

The Deep South is home to 17 age-group teams from around the country as they compete for the Netball NZ U19 Champs title at ILT Stadium Southland.

After two days of play, the defending champion Auckland side – spearheaded by ANZ Premiership midcourter Tayla Earle – remains unbeaten having posted big wins over an Invitational side (48-36), Dunedin B (46-24), and Waitakere (66-26).

They also beat Howick Pakuranga on Tuesday night to set up a match against Manawatu in the first round of post-pool play on Wednesday morning.

Last year’s runners-up, Wellington, have also started strongly with comfortable victories over Pukekohe (57-15) and Invercargill (53-17), before a close match-up with Christchurch.

The Anna Andrews-Tasola coached side – which is also boosted by ANZ Premiership players including Maddy Gordon, Tiana Metuarau and Renee Savai’inaea – eventually pulled away for a 47-30 victory over the Pool B second seeds.

Wellington now takes on North Harbour which finished second in Pool C.

Trust Waikato Hamilton City upset the Pool D top seeds with a 47-30 victory over Manawatu, while also accounting for Selwyn (65-22) and Hutt Valley. They are now set to play Howick Pakuranga.

Pool C top seeds, Dunedin A, went through unbeaten and will meet Christchurch in their first post-pool game on Wednesday. Dunedin beat Bay of Plenty (45-31), North Otago (54-24, Eastern Waikato (39-31) and second seeded North Harbour to reach the top eight.

Netball New Zealand selectors Marg Forsyth and Adrienne Morrin have been courtside to cast an eye over the action.

Forsyth said they had been pleased with the standard of play early on but expected to see teams truly tested over the next two days.

“The skills that we have seen so far have impressed with a lot of flowing netball,” she said. “But as selectors we’ll be interested to see how players respond to the pressures in post pool play.”

The tournament final will be played at ILT Stadium Southland on Thursday at 2pm.