Richmond wins premier netball final


The Premier 1 final lived up to all expectations when a tightly-contested game was played between top seed Richmond and defending champions Jacks OPD.
In the four clashes this season the spoils are been shared with two wins apiece, however the slate was wiped clean and the winner took the title.
Jacks were without their ace goal shooter, Ani Waitai however the team were well aware of her coaching commitment with the Tasman Men at their New Zealand Championships and had prepared for her absence.
Hannah Mead handled the GS bib with aplomb to defeat Stoke NBS 52-51 in the semi.
It was mooted in netball circles that the competition had been such this year that any one of the top four could take the title.
And going into the final there were a whole lot of “netball experts” sitting on the fence when it came down to predicting a winner.
Jacks began well by converting a turnover to open the score and then scored on their centre pass to be 2–0 up, however Richmond did exactly the same to even the ledger. Richmond soon found their rhythm and scored eight out of nine goals
to take a commanding lead, while Jacks looked to be trouble.
The green team rallied to bring the score to a more respectable 8–12 at the first break.
The second period was more flowing as the score indicated with a 16–13 quarter, with Richmond looking to be in control with a seven goal lead.
Jacks coach, Robyn Leonard made changes to her “bookends” – Jazmyn Price was introduced at goal keep, while Jess Bygate took over the goal shoot duties.
It was a move which paid off – while Jazmyn had not had a lot of court time throughout the season, she has taken the opportunity to learn and offered a needed change to the defensive circle. Jess’s height provided a different option to score, however Jacks had to adapt their play to get the ball to her.
Jacks had the better of Richmond in the third quarter by 19–13, and only trailed by 40–41.
Richmond bought goal keeper, Marina Tristram-Hirst back on court and her physical presence proved to be more restricting on Jacks’ offence. Richmond finished strongly to record a 54–50 win.
The game was a great spectacle, which had the “punters” on the edge of their seats throughout.
Kathleen Thornalley has played her best netball in several seasons and put in a power of work on the outside of the circle, while goal attack Nicky Rampton is always a threat and would be happy with her increased accuracy on Saturday.
The centres – Lisa Book and Jodie Hikorua went “hammer and tongs” and virtually cancelled one another out, while Belinda Kolomatanga and Ella Marwick also had a battle royale.
And while it was congratulations to Richmond on their win, it was a well done to all the teams, particularly the top four, who made the competition a very entertaining one.