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Central crowned winners of the 2018 Beko Netball League

Central crowned winners of the 2018 Beko Netball League

Sunday 29 July
Central has won back-to-back Beko Netball League titles with a third-quarter scoring blitz earning them their second straight crown.

The defending champions beat Waikato-BOP 62-53 at Pulman Arena in Auckland on Sunday as they came from behind to net the honours.

Mid-courter and player of the match Maddy Gordon said there was belief within the side that they could win the title despite trailing at half-time.

“It was just amazing,” she said of the feeling out on court. “We’re just a young group of girls and we knew it was going to be a big challenge but we just all had faith in each other.

“It wasn’t the best start but it was so good to see all the girls get there in that third quarter. We were here for a reason and we just had to throw everything at it.”

Waikato-BOP captain Simmon Howe said her side failed to adapt to the changes Central made at half-time.

“It just wasn’t our day today,” she said. “It’s been an awesome season. Even though we didn’t get the result I’m so proud of the season.”

It wasn’t all bad news for Howe who was later named the Beko Netball League player of the season.

But it was Central’s day as they took charge in the second half after what had been an intense arm-wrestle during the first 30 minutes of play.

Both teams shrugged off early nerves and it was Waikato-BOP to take a slender advantage with the defensive duo of Jenna O’Sullivan and Hannah Ridling disruptive from the outset, picking up six intercepts between them in the first quarter.

They forced Central coach Pelesa Semu to go to her bench mid-way through the spell with Saviour Tui replaced by Braxton Te Rini at goal attack.

Waikato-BOP had a few early shooting jitters but goal attack Harley Smith was the first to step up with her rebounding ability and accuracy.

They jumped out to a 12-7 lead with shooter Kelsey McPhee warming into her task as Waikato-BOP’s patience up front paid dividends with a 15-11 first quarter lead.

There were ever only a handful of goals between the two in the second stanza and Central locked the scores at 19-19 after seven minutes.

The defending champions looked to take the advantage into the main break but a turnover and long-range shot from McPhee gave Waikato-BOP a 27-26 heading into the third quarter.

A re-jig up front for Central – where Mila Reuelu-Buchanan moved to wing attack and Maddy Gordon to centre – sparked them into action while at the back Paris Lokotui came on strongly at goal keeper to team-up with Elle Temu.

They built a two-goal lead before Reuelu-Buchanan went down with an ankle injury in what looked like a major blow for the Central side.

Salote Taufa came back on at wing attack but it was the changes at the other end of the court that kick-started a momentum swing in Central’s favour.

Temu and Lokotui smothered Waikato-BOP’s attacking options and with the quick transition onto attack – led by the driving play of Temu – Central was able to score quickly.

A five-goal lead to Central prompted Waikato-BOP coach Mary-Jane Araroa to make changes at both ends of the court with O’Sullivan moving to the bench and Georgia Tong making an appearance. Schoolgirl Khiarna Williams was also injected into the shooting circle with McPhee moving to goal attack.

But it did little to slow the Central rampage as they lifted intensity again to go on an eight-goal run to dominate the quarter 21-6 and lead 47-33 with one spell to play.

Araroa reverted back to the defence line which started the game as Waikato-BOP looked for answers against Central. A string of five unanswered goals gave them a sniff but the deficit proved insurmountable in 15 minutes of play.
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