A revolving starting seven and sliding between grades hasn’t slowed Rival Blue Diamonds, whose latest win on Saturday kept their unbeaten netball season alive in the Nelson grade 3 netball competition.
Rival topped Prices Pharmacy White 37-24 at Saxton Stadium on Saturday, continuing their dominance. Coach Annette Vercoe says a bad run of injuries last year meant they started this season in grade 4. “We were a wee bit frustrated to be in that grade to begin with, so we had a point to prove.”
And prove it they did, going unbeaten in five games to earn promotion to grade 3. But the step up in competition hasn’t slowed them, going unbeaten through four games, a draw against bottom-placed Richmond the only blemish.
Annette says Laura Richards in attack and Alicia Davis in defence are the rocks of the team.
“We haven’t had a consistent starting 7 with people away. We have a core of nine who adapt and play in different positions, depending on who’s available. Every time we play it’s a different seven. “But the girls have been pretty keen to do well this year. They’ve trained hard and that’s showing on the court.”
She says the strength of the team is across the court. “We’re through-court strong defensively, teams struggle to get flow on and score points against us quickly. Defensively we’re doing well.”
This week Rival will play Wanderers on Fire, the final game of the second round. If they win, it’s likely they will be promoted again to grade 2. Annette says that’s the goal. “We’re hoping to get up into grade 2 and be competitive at least, and we want to be there at the end of the year.”
As for an unbeaten season? Annette says the players aren’t talking about it but it has been on her mind. “But I think we might be challenged if we go up a grade.”