Flames too hot for champions

Monday October 01, 2018 Written by Published in Netball
Ashley Napa in action during Titikaveka’s loss to Arorangi on Saturday. 18100103 Ashley Napa in action during Titikaveka’s loss to Arorangi on Saturday. 18100103

The final round before the knock-outs in this year’s Rising Stars Netball Tournament has seen this year’s biggest upset.

The defending champions Titikaveka Pearls were decisively beaten by the Arorangi Flames, 47-56 ahead of the knock-out semifinals in a fortnight.

The Pearls went into the game without the experience of Alanna Smith in the shooting circle, which saw an opportunity given to Giselle Rea to start at goal shooter to partner Ani Matenga at goal attack.

The opening quarter saw both teams starting with a number of turnovers, but scores remained tight until the Flames started to charge because of the turnovers gained.

The shooting combination for the Flames of Remuera and Elena Mataora, had the Titikaveka defensive pairing of Claire Wilson and Natalia Short taking a while to assert their usual dominance.

Mataora and Remuera were mixing things up nicely in the circle and some sublime feeding at times making the attack end look all too easy for the Flames.

The Flames held a slim three-goal lead at the end of the first quarter and at times during the second quarter struggled to shake of the Pearls who at times showed they were not to be written off.

However, it was their ability to score from defensive turnovers in the third quarter that saw the game taken away from the Pearls.

The lead blew out to 11 goals midway through the third and despite a positional switch at halftime in the Pearls shooting circle with Matenga and Rea switching position, it was all too little too late.

Flames captain Romey Rauraa, who helped control proceedings in centre, said she was really pleased with how her team excelled on attack throughout the match.

“All during this week and during the competition we have been trying really hard to nail down our on-court connections.

“Both Greta and Elena were really on their game and allowed us on the outside of the circle to give them good ball.”

Titikavkea spoke at the end of the game about putting their performance aside as quickly as possible before turning their attention to the semi-finals.

With only four teams in this year’s competition, all the premier teams have a week off before starting the semi-finals on the October 13.

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