Super Club teams dust off pre-season cobwebs
Producing a stirring second half fightback, The Good Oil Tactix rounded out the opening day of the 2019 Netball Super Club tournament with a 46-43 win over the Northern Stars in Nelson on Sunday.
Other winners on day one included the Collingwood Magpies (Australia), Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel and Northern Mystics as all teams produced glimpses of promise while blowing out the cobwebs in their first exchanges of the pre-season.
In adding an international flavour with the inclusion of the Magpies and Wasps (England), the eight teams were given the opportunity to showcase their 2020 line-ups.
Trailing for the first half of the match, the Tactix hit their straps in the second half with more through-court precision and effective finishing. Dynamic Tactix midcourter Kimiora Poi was in the thick of action while new recruit, shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit continued to grow into the game.
The Stars made multiple changes throughout but impressed with their stubborn intent with shooters Maia Wilson and young secondary school talent Vika Kolota impressing with their nerveless contributions under the hoop.
The threat posed by 1.93m teenaged schoolgirl Grace Nweke was all too evident as the Mystics posted an impressive 49-39 win over defending Super Club champions Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.
The Mystics stayed on target throughout the match with their constant defensive pressure where Sulu Fitzpatrick was a key performer while the imposing skills, height and ability of Nweke to put the shot away proved the difference.
The Pulse had few answers to the placing of pin-point bombs landing in Nweke’s hands but had their moments until late in the piece. Still handily-placed when trailing by just four goals at the last break, untimely lapses and shaky shooting left the Pulse on the back foot.
The Steel eased into their work in seamless fashion on their way to a comfortable 50-36 win over Wasps, two teams with strong pedigrees in their respective domestic competitions.
Still recovering from their long flight, Wasps struggled to adapt to the Steel’s play, the 2017 Super Club champions showing few chinks in their arsenal as they delivered an early statement.
The Steel showed the benefit of stability with a number of familiar faces in their line-up but took the opportunity to unveil shooting import Kalifa McCollin, in her first for the southerners. The Trinidad & Tobago international showed her class with deceptive movement, athleticism and skills under the hoop while fellow shooter Jennifer O’Connell also excelled when missing just two shots (24/26) after playing three-quarters of the match.
Continuing to find their feet the deeper the game went, Wasps delivered a strong fightback in the last quarter, with signs of further gains as the tournament progresses. Veteran shooter Rachel Dunn was a mainstay with her presence and accuracy under the hoop.
Attending the tournament for the first time, Magpies opened their account with an untroubled 52-33 win over Splice Construction Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
Having the luxury of an international in each third of the court – 1.95m Jamaican shooter Shimona Nelson under the hoop, the lively Ash Brazill in the midcourt and the well-credentialled Geva Mentor at goalkeeper – the visitors held the upper-hand throughout.
The trio were influential figures in denying Magic a greater share of the possession while the tall figure of Nelson proved rock solid on the shot with a return of 41 goals from 44 attempts for a 93 percent success rate.
Settling into their new combinations, the young Magic side had their moments through the middle stages of the match before the Magpies came home strongly with a dominant final quarter.