Russells Curtains Nelson Under 17 representative team travelled to Wellington to compete at the Marj Jenden Tournament over the weekend.
While the team has had a fairly limited build up, the tournament is used to test their skills against the North Island teams and generally work on gelling their combinations. In their opening game, Nelson were one goal down with a minute to go against Kapi Mana, however they ended the game on the wrong side of the ledger – going down 19-23.
Nelson learnt from their previous game when they met Wellington Gold. The game was tight throughout, however the girls kept their heads to the final whistle. With the score tied, Wellington turned the ball over, however Nelson worked hard to regain possession and convert to win the game 20-19.
Nelson did not have their best performance against Wanganui and were beaten 19-25.
Wairarapa were not as strong as previous opposition, however Nelson played good structured netball to dominate all facets of play to win 40-6.
Coach Mandy Whiting said the margin was the largest of the tournament and she was able to give good court time minutes to all her roster. Nelson lost their inspirational captain, Poppy Restieaux, with an ankle injury and her leadership was missed on court.
Nelson was 7-15 in arrears at half time against Kapiti, however a number of positional changes worked wonders. Taylah Kirker and Natasha Bannister teamed up to present a formidable duo in the defensive circle, while Demi Woolley and Kalyssa Rasmussen were on-song in the offensive circle. Nelson lost 22- 23.
Nelson was seeded fourth in their pool, on goal differential, and met Marlborough in their first crossover game, which they lost.
In the play off for seventh and eighth, Nelson lost to Hawkes Bay 25- 28 after being up 14-11 at the break.
While Poppy came in for praise from her coach, so to did Natasha who had a great tournament. Shooter Kalyssa worked hard throughout, and shot in excess of 80 per cent. Courtney Lott was the powerhouse through the mid court, as she kept going and going. Tali Uia was Nelson’s most improved player – coach Whiting, said she was a quick learner and her performances were rewarded with her selection in the tournament team.
Nelson’s next outing will be the Top of the South Tournament in Blenheim in three weeks, with their New Zealand Tournament in Mt Maunganui in July.