Thu, Jun 20, 2024 9:32 PM

Big upsets mark second round


Jack Malcolm

It was an evening of upsets as NBS premier grade netball ratcheted up a gear.

For the first time since their reintroduction into the region’s top league in 2022, the FCL Men found themselves on the losing side of the ledger, with Jacks OPD the David to topple Goliath in a 69-61 win.

Not to be outdone, Richmond F45 also rose to the occasion against Prices Waimea Ahurei in a 52-48 win.

While Stoke NBS came out on top of Nelson Girls College Senior A 54-48 in what had seemed to be the hardest game to pick coming into the round.

Jacks and the Nelson Men huddled together after the upset result. Photo: Jack Malcolm.

Richmond’s coach, Kathleen Thornalley, was ecstatic with the result as she recounted how her team had overcome the odds to come out on top.

“Big ups to my girls. They stayed to the game plan and kept grinding.

“Our little general Belinda [Kolomatangi] and our GS Rachel [George], the two old heads really directing things.

“And our back three of our GK, Maddi [Springer], our GD, Eden [Te Huki], and our WD Courtney [Lott]. They just did a very good job.”

With neither team gaining any real advantage throughout the game, there was also never a lead bigger than five points.

While Ahurei were the consensus favourites coming into the game, their coach, Mandy Whiting, says they never really got into their flow.

“We were a bit out of sorts and we don’t really know why.

“It’s a hiccup. It was really physical out there. When we did get a turnover and moved it up court quickly, it flowed so well.”

Mandy was quick to congratulate Richmond, saying it was their performance that put them into that position.

“It was hard work. Richmond made us work.”

Lucy Ingham looks to move the ball up court for Prices Waimea Ahurei. Photo: Jack Malcolm.

Both squads did face injury and unavailability, with Kathleen saying it felt like they started on the back foot before the game even began.

“Today we had two away and a couple sick or injured. In saying this, though, they all stepped up and played a really quality game.”

Ahurei’s defensive end took a hit midway through the second quarter when Georiga Davies went down with an ankle injury that saw her never return to the court.

That saw the team have to dig deep into their bag of players, with Kim Lammers playing as a write-in and taking the premier grade court after a significant time away.

“We were short three main players tonight,” says Mandy, “and they were a couple of our main players.”

But, she also says Richmond rose to the occasion in what was a tough and physical game on court.

With both Jacks’ and Richmond’s triumphs being played on opposing courts, it was an exciting final few minutes as both games went down to the wire.

For Richmond, it was the team growing their first holdable lead of the game as they started to string together turnovers into points.

For Jacks, it was about holding on to their lead as the Men fought tooth and nail to try and keep their multi-year unbeaten streak alive.

With the first round of the 2024 season a standalone competition, the race for the silverware has only just begun with teams just two games into a two-round competition.

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