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Challenges ahead for title contenders

Published: Wed 11 Oct 2017 08:20 PM
Challenges ahead for title contenders
The hunt for a grand finals berth steps up at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Champs and national selector Kiri Wills expects a tight race.
The top eight teams were found at the national tournament in Rotorua on Wednesday and pool play to determine which two teams make Friday’s final is under-way.
Wills said she had seen an “extremely competitive” opening day at the tournament which had set up a challenging second phase as teams were split into the top and bottom eight.
“It’s been a pretty high standard from early on,” she said. “Often we can see teams easing into it on day one but it’s been full on from the start and some very competitive pools.”
The push for a top two spot in Pool D went to the wire with St Mary’s College of Wellington edging tournament newcomers St Paul’s Collegiate.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School lost their opening game of the tournament but won their next two games – including a thriller with St Mary’s – to win the highly contested Pool while St Mary’s needed to beat St Paul’s to progress.
They trailed by one goal to St Paul’s going into the second half but narrowly claimed the next two quarters to reach the top eight with a 32-28 victory.
Day two proved a big one for St Mary’s who later faced Pool C winner Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) in the opening round of phase 2 play.
St Mary’s led by one goal at the first break but MAGS won the next three quarters to earn maximum points with a 35-27 win and remain on track for a finals berth.
Wills said players faced another tough day on Thursday as they pushed hard to finish ranked one in the pools making up the top eight – earning the right to play in Friday’s grand final.
“The intensity certainly lifts and it’s a challenge for the players – both mentally and physically – to bring their best for two games every day,” she said. “But the girls are pretty primed for this tournament and you can see the excitement. There’s certainly plenty of emotion – good emotion – from all teams.”
Howick College continued their dream debut at the national tournament by topping Pool A and going on to beat Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 30-26.
“I’m not surprised with how they’ve performed,” Wills said. “While they will be happy to just be at nationals I believe they are contenders and someone to watch.”
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School also showed they will be tough to topple with a convincing 52-36 win over St Hilda’s Collegiate while the defending champion Saint Kentigern College won an enthralling arm-wrestle with Manukura, winning 35-34, in the last game of the day.
Meanwhile, Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Ashburton College, St Paul’s Collegiate and St Margaret’s College all netted wins in the opening rounds of Pools G and H.
Play continues tomorrow with the grand final to be played at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua on Friday.
Ends
Day 1 & 2 Results
Results - Tuesday 10 October
St Hilda's Collegiate School
39
V
27
Queen Margaret College
Mount Albert Grammar School
51
V
25
Ashburton College
Epsom Girls' Grammar School
31
V
30
St Mary's Wellington
St Andrew's College
27
V
46
St Paul's Collegiate School
Howick College
30
V
27
Saint Kentigern College
Palmerston North Girls' High School
30
V
36
Christchurch Girls' High School
Manukura
30
V
26
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
St Margaret's College
27
V
38
Sacred Heart College
St Hilda's Collegiate School
21
V
41
Mount Albert Grammar School
Queen Margaret College
34
V
35
Ashburton College
St Mary's Wellington
45
V
20
St Andrew's College
Epsom Girls' Grammar School
27
V
28
St Paul's Collegiate School
Saint Kentigern College
50
V
20
Christchurch Girls' High School
Palmerston North Girls' High School
20
V
35
Howick College
Manukura
38
V
22
St Margaret's College
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
32
V
28
Sacred Heart College
Results - Wednesday 11 October
St Andrew's College
29
V
53
Epsom Girls' Grammar School
St Paul's Collegiate School
28
V
32
St Mary's Wellington
Ashburton College
27
V
44
St Hilda's Collegiate School
Queen Margaret College
25
V
56
Mount Albert Grammar School
Manukura
44
V
18
Sacred Heart College
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
40
V
37
St Margaret's College
Saint Kentigern College
46
V
20
Palmerston North Girls' High School
Howick College
43
V
17
Christchurch Girls' High School
St Paul's Collegiate School
44
V
19
Queen Margaret College
Ashburton College
33
V
25
St Andrew's College
Sacred Heart College
27
V
28
Palmerston North Girls' High School
Christchurch Girls' High School
29
V
36
St Margaret's College
Epsom Girls' Grammar School
52
V
36
St Hilda's Collegiate School
Mount Albert Grammar School
35
V
27
St Mary's Wellington
Manukura
34
V
35
Saint Kentigern College
Howick College
30
V
26
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls

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