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​Top eight emerge at Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Champs

New Zealand Secondary Schools coach Charissa Barham has been delighted with the amount of “contestable” matches at the Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary School Champs in Nelson.

The top eight schools in the country have been found at Saxton Stadium after a competitive two days.

“There have been a couple of blow-outs but there are more contestable games – teams pushing for the full 40 minutes,” Barham said.

“It’s pleasing to see that school pride coming through and playing right up to the final whistle.”

She felt the standard had lifted on the second day which had seen four teams emerge unbeaten as Friday’s final decider approached.

Manukura, Westlake Girls’ High School, St Peter’s School, Cambridge and Saint Kentigern’s College have yet to drop a game after two days of play but face a demanding schedule on Thursday as they eye up the final.

Manukura was made to work hard in its first game of post pool play up against Epsom Girls’ Grammar School.

They trailed at the first break by one goal but turned the tables to lead by four at the main break before taking control in the third quarter to go on to a 30-24 win.

Manukura had earlier topped Pool B with a 38-22 win over Samuel Marsden Collegiate using their height well at both ends of the court.

Coach Renee Matoe and assistant Yvette McCausland-Durie were able to use much of their bench during the second half, having earned an 11-goal lead by halftime.

It did little to stem the scoring flow with talented netballer Parris Mason showing her versatility having played a key hand on defence before switching for a role in the shooting circle.

Barham said the strength of the team benches would be important during a crucial third day.

“It’s a big week of netball and could come down to the team which has a strong bench over one which has just their top seven,” she said.

Westlake Girls’ High School put in a big second half effort to overcome Christchurch Girls’ High School, 37-25, in its first top eight game.

The Christchurch side needed a thrilling one-goal win over St Margaret’s College (36-35) earlier in the day to progress and looked ready to challenge Westlake early on as they grabbed a 12-10 lead.

But Westlake’s accuracy in the shooting circle, led by Tamara Otene, saw them take a slender 15-13 halftime lead and from there they slowly built a match-winning advantage.

St Peter’s School, Cambridge, also had their game against Howick College under control by halftime, leading 20-9, going on to notch up a convincing 41-25 victory, while Saint Kentigern College were in commanding form over Avondale College for a 60-39 win.

The defensive efforts of Lisa Putt and Olivia Ropati nullified the threat of Avondale’s Grace Nweke, while the link between midcourter Jaymie Kolose and shooter Harriette Baxter put Saint Kentigern in the box seat by halftime.

Post pool play continues on Thursday with the final to be played at 1.40pm on Friday.