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St Peter’s School makes history with final’s berth

There was plenty of emotion as the whistles blew to confirm St Peter’s School their first ever spot in the final of the Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary School Netball Champs.

The bench greeted their team-mates with hugs and smiles as the Cambridge school, which is making its debut at the national school event, booked a place in Friday’s championship decider at Saxton Stadium in Nelson.

There they will meet 2016 champions Saint Kentigern College who have also gone through the week unbeaten and look in ominous form.

Saint Kentigern netted two wins on Thursday to cement its place in the final with a 43-19 win over Christchurch Girls’ High School and a 41-25 victory against Westlake Girls’ High School.

Goal defence Lisa Putt turned on a strong performance against Westlake while at the other end of the court Jasleen Singh and Harriette Baxter worked well together in the shooting circle to combat the presence of influential defender, Rachael Webster.

Saint Kentigern’s dominance was highlighted in the second quarter when they kept Westlake scoreless for over six minutes to build a match-winning lead.

The Auckland school will go into the final as favourites having beaten St Peter’s 44-21 at the Upper North Island qualifying event last month.

But little can take the shine of the performance of St Peter’s in what is their first experience of the demanding national tournament.

Coached by former Silver Fern, Te Aroha Keenan, they have gone through three days unbeaten including Thursday’s wins over Epsom Girls’ Grammar School (49-38) and Manukura (37-25).

Not even a lengthy delay heading into the fourth quarter against Manukura, where a score discrepancy took some time to resolve, could derail St Peter’s march forwards on what has been a fairytale ride.

A full court defensive effort paved the way to the victory over Manukura with Katie Te Ao a standout for St Peter’s against the height of shooter Janaya Preece.

Manukura grabbed an early 3-0 lead but from there St Peter’s took control both with their patience on attack and hunger for ball on defence.

Basketball’s Tall Fern Charlisse Leger Walker combined well with shooting buddy Atlanta Bruce to share the scoring load as St Peter’s led 19-14 at halftime.

Manukura turned enough ball over on defence but were unable to safely deliver possession to the shooting circle as the game slipped away in the second half.

They now meet Westlake for the play-off for third and fourth place.

The final of the Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champions will be played at 1.40pm on SKY Sport 3 and via their live streamed on YouTube.