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Waikato-BOP and Southern Blast share NNL points

There were mixed emotions from Waikato-BOP after netting National Netball League points in their match-up with the Southern Blast but falling just seconds short of their first win of the season.

WBOP held off a fast-finishing Blast at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin on Sunday, sharing the NNL points after a 48-48 draw.

But they were left wondering what could have been having led at all the breaks, only to see the Blast close the gap in a thrilling fourth quarter.

WBOP captain Hannah Ridling said she was proud of her team to put the performance out on court and while it was disappointing not to come away with maximum points, they were pleased to get the draw.

“It would have been so good for the win but it was an awesome game and I’m just so proud of the girls.”

The inclusion of ANZ Premiership players Georgia Tong and Georgie Edgecombe during the first 30 minutes helped the Waikato-BOP hold their narrow advantage on the scoreboard.

“They come on and bring so much experience,” Ridling said of the Splice Construction Magic players.

“We’ve played with them before so we just click together and they helped us have a really solid first half.”

Blast captain and Player of the Match Laura Overton said they “couldn’t quite get over the line” having trailed for much of the match.

“We couldn’t really put our foot down and score off those turnovers,” she said.

Overton was a stand-out for the hosts with nine gains including three intercepts, three rebounds and three deflections, while centre Sophie Erwood was pivotal with two deflections late in the game to give the hosts a sniff of victory.

It was WBOP which got the jump on their opponents early on, a seven-goal run mid-way through the first quarter pushing the visitors out to an 8-4 lead.

It was an advantage they held for much of the match, thanks to the steady shooting of Ellie McManaway and efforts on defence from both Tong and Ridling.

A more settled Blast was on show in the second quarter, having trailed 9-12, but going goal-for-goal with WBOP.

McManaway was a key target for the visitors, with a strong hold, and the shooter was able to pull in some tough ball over Blast’s Lauren Pickett, but WBOP was never able to shake their southern opponents with just three goals the difference at the main break as both coaches turned to their bench for the second half.

Tong and Edgecombe were replaced by Kate Littlejohn and Katie Te Ao respectively, while the Blast’s Kiana Pelasio, who plays for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, also made way for Harriett Cuttance.

WBOP edged ahead 38-34 with one quarter to play but with their first win in sight were not helped by two quick turnovers straight after the whistles as the gap was closed to just one goal.

A clean intercept from Ridling however, one of her five intercepts of the game, stemmed the flow and allowed Waikato-BOP to settle back into their flow.

The Blast never let up as Erwood made the first of her two key deflections, which were converted by Grace Namana at the other end of the court, setting up a tense final few minutes of play.

Meanwhile, Mainland netted their second win of the NNL, beating Central Manawa 52-34 in Lincoln on Sunday.