So close, yet so far for Raro girls

Wednesday December 09, 2015 Written by Published in Netball
Eri Short of Raro Open puts pressure against Whangaruru goal shooter in the Ladies Open fi nal at the National Sports Arena yesterday. The visitors won 32-29. PHOTO: Harvie Allieson 15120822 Eri Short of Raro Open puts pressure against Whangaruru goal shooter in the Ladies Open fi nal at the National Sports Arena yesterday. The visitors won 32-29. PHOTO: Harvie Allieson 15120822

It may have looked like a wrong throw of the dice, but Luciana Matenga’s positional change in the Netball in Paradise tournament showdown yesterday almost paid off for the Raro girls.

 

The former national skipper started off deep in defence and moved to attack in the final quarter to guide her young side to a spirited performance in its 29-32 loss to the mighty Whangaruru.

The open ladies final held at the National Sports Arena had spark from the start, as firepower and finesse under the rim kept up momentum from the opening whistle through to the final hooter.

Whangaruru shot off to a flying start leading 11-6 at the end of the opening quarter against an unsettled Raro Open.

Matenga held the guard under the rim but changed to goal defence in the second quarter, giving her some room to muster the attack and leaving the goalkeeping to Eri Short.

National 7s rep Teiti Tupuna, who started off on centre, went on to wing attack to provide pace upfront.

Raro Open managed to cushion the deficit and were trailing by three points at 16-19 at the break.

Whangaruru overpowered in the third quarter and some lethargic play from the local side which had a couple of players who had also featured in the mixed grade final earlier on, saw the visitors extending the lead to 27-22.

With utility defender Matenga moving further upfront (wing defence) in the final quarter, the game took a dramatic turn as Raro Open kept closing in to level the score in the dying stages of the match.

With five minutes remaining on the clock, the home side was trailing by a point and looked all set to become the first Cook Islands club to win the annual tournament.

But successive failed attempts at goal led them down before Whangaruru powered back to clinch the title with a well-deserved 32-29 win.

“I should have done that (positional change) earlier,” an exhausted Matenga said at the end of the exciting match.

“But it was good final. Our players playing in the other grades before the open’s final definitely took a toll but they deserve this win. They played their hearts out and won fair. Congratulations to them.”

Whangaruru skipper Ringi Snowden hailed both teams for putting up a great fight in the final.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic with our girls. We have traveled a long way to play some really good netball and the final was amazing to say the least,” Snowden said. “All credit goes to Rarotonga, they played well too.”

In the other grades, Norths overcame PolyTatt’s 39-27 to claim the social ladies’ final while Te Tai Timu thumped Avengers 41-22 to claim the plate title.

In the mixed grade final, local team Barbie Grilz’ valiant efforts were in vain after the side went down fighting 35-37 to North Harbour of Auckland.

The mixed grade final between Pauaz I and Pauaz Too did not take place due to injuries to players. 

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