The stage is set for an intriguing Marlborough premier netball final on Saturday.
On opposite sides of the Stadium 2000 court will be “country cousins” – Pelorus Edridge Contracting and Tokomaru Crafar Crouch Picton.
Last Tuesday the two finalists booked their places in the premiership decider, pushing aside SMOG and Harlequins respectively, two clubs who have almost exclusively dominated the local premier scene for the past few decades.
Toko took out the premier crown in 2017, a rare interruption of the SMOG/Quins dominance, while Pelorus are yet to get their name on the trophy. In fact, this year’s premier final will be their first trip to the “big dance”.
Courtney Taufa, the Pelorus player/coach, is excited to be part of a squad on the cusp of creating history.
“Last year was out the first semi in 18 years and this year we have made the final, so that’s awesome.
“Toko will be tough … they play with their heart on their sleeve and give it their all, so we have got to come out firing.”
Taufa said Pelorus had a simple recipe for success. “We work for each other … have each other’s backs.”
Tokomaru coach Vanessa Hika, who was part of the winning management team in 2017, knows what is required to win a premier final and feels her side has the potential to do just that.
“[The Tokomaru team] have come a really long way this season … they have become a much tighter unit as the season has gone on. They have trust in each other, and composure.”
Hika said the youth and the relative inexperience of this side was not an issue.
“I think Gemma [Hika] and Hana [Wilson] were the only ones playing when we won in 2017, but this group is quite capable of taking out the final.
“If they believe in themselves and want it more than the other team, it will be ours.”
The finalists have met three times previously this season, Pelorus prevailing 52-47 and 66-54 in their first two clashes, before Toko responded by taking out the round three match 61-58.
Both sides possess key players at the attacking end. Pelorus shooter Paige Lovell is willing to put up shots from anywhere in the circle, making her exceptionally hard to restrict. She is expected to carry the bulk of the shooting duties.
Tokomaru poses a twin threat, with youngster Haze Tepuia, who operates sweetly close to the hoop working in tandem with the experienced Gemma Hika. Both are high percentage shooters.
The finalists are also well served at the defensive end.
Pelorus can call on Courtney Taufa and the ever-improving Oriana Hours. Both work well in close quarters while Taufa, particularly, is adept at hunting out for interceptions.
Toko’s Michaela Boaz and Naia Lawrence tend to fly under the radar somewhat but are energetic and effective in the circle. Read More