Ruthless Richmond roll Prices
Story by: Jonathan McKoeown - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Chris Symes
Richmond looked every bit a champion outfit as they outpointed Prices at Saxton Stadium last night, while both Waimea College and Jacks survived close games to remain undefeated in the championship round of Nelson netball's premier grade.
Richmond Robbies Bar and Bistro had their top side back on court and the presence of Nicki Rampton and Kat Jones had an undeniable impact as they pushed past Prices Pharmacy 74-54.
Rampton's height complemented Kathleen Thornalley's ability to hold the space and the dynamic duo took control in the circle for Richmond in the opening exchanges. With more options open to her, Lisa Book was at her decisive best when selecting a path into the circle, controlling the tempo well from the centre position.
Coming off the back of a loss to Waimea College the week before Richmond came out with a steely determination and Prices were left chasing the game as the defending champions blitzed to an 18-9 lead at quartertime.
Richmond have been a little guilty of falling off the pace in games this season, or having an off quarter, however last night they held the intensity right through to build to a 35-21 lead at halftime. In a game that became quite heated, Richmond kept their head to lead 54-40 at three-quartertime.
Prices looked sharp through centre court when Christta Burrows and Kat Soper combined, but missed opportunities and several turnovers inside the shooting circle cost them momentum. Prices stand-in coach Jane Andrew said that in the end Prices left themselves too much to do.
"They were outplayed in the first quarter and played catchup for the rest of the game. Richmond put four quarters together and played really well.
"Let's face it, Nicki's height did us in, and it always does."
When you consider Rampton shot only two fewer goals than the combined Prices team, 52 at 86 per cent, it is a statement that is justified. However it was the team's performance as a whole that allowed Rampton to shine, and that was reflected in Richmond coach Amanda Springer's comments.
"I'm really pleased with all of the team, I think it was the first game where we had a consistent team effort through all four quarters.
"We are starting to gel and it's a good time to be doing that."
On court two, Wanderers Taylors A had targeted their match against Waimea College Senior A as one to win. However, after a close third quarter Waimea built through the game and recorded a 50-43 victory.
Waimea's second straight victory was constructed through a strong mid-court performance from centre Kaitlin Stringer, wing attack Ella Marwick and an outstanding performance from wing defence Ashley Laing.
Waimea had worked on their speed of delivery into the circle and for periods it worked well, however at other times the Wanderers defence, led by Kiriana Davis, were able to pick the long ball and intercept.
Wanderers kept pace with Waimea for most of the match and were rewarded by winning the final quarter, albeit by a one-goal margin.
Coach Jared Lock said this display showed that his side belonged in the premier grade.
"I think this is where we should be but we need just a little bit more time to develop as a team. It's not the score we wanted. We wanted to come out on top, we just lacked a bit of intensity, that was all."
In the final match of the evening Stoke NBS pushed Jacks OPD Richmond all the way, winning the last two quarters to earn a losing bonus point, 64-59.
When the final whistle went the Stoke bench went up like they had won the game, but it was more a celebration of the way they had played and being the first team to get within five points of Jacks all season.
It was all Jacks in the first quarter as they raced out to a 22-16 lead, which they built on in the second through great movement around the court from Leanne Cook. Jacks went into the halftime break ahead by 38-28.
But in the second half Stoke looked the more forceful side as Vanessa Hislop and Emily Stalker combined to put pressure on the feed to the Jacks shooters. Ani-Marie Waitai still shot 46 goals from 49 attempts for Jacks, but the amount of opportunities she was given dried up in the second half due to uncharacteristic errors.
Jacks' tactic of boxing out Stoke goal shoot Megan Thomson worked well at times, but in the final periods goal attack Kelsey Whiting stepped up to sink the clutch goals.
Judging by their last two performances, albeit a losing one on this occasion, Stoke are a team on the rise. It's a point coach Priyani de Silva-Currie had been instilling in her side all week.
"We have been training as a team all week, saying there is absolutely no team in this competition we can't beat. All bets are off at the business end."