Young stars shine as league kicks in

Mary Jane Araroa netball coach

EASTERN Bay netball talent was on show in round one of the Beko League.

Waikato Bay of Plenty beat South 47-39 in Te Aroha on Sunday, the league is the tier below the ANZ Premiership.

The team included Whakatane shooters Harley Smith and Khiarna Williams and Opotiki midcourter Simmon Howe, who captained the side.

Te Teko’s Mary-Jane Araroa coaches the team and said she was rapt with the way her team started the competition.

“When we had control and let the ball go, we looked good. We did well to pressure South into making mistakes.

“This team has been going since October and it was good to get out there, have a hit out and get the win. This competition is tough and if teams have done the pre-season work, they will be the ones that will come through.

“I would like to think our girls have done that and it is going to be an exciting, and different, challenge for me as a coach.”

Smith played the entire game at goal attack, just a week after making her premiership debut with the Magic. Smith is a training partner with the Magic team.

“I was pleased the training partners were able to play and I am super proud of what Harley has done,” Araroa said.

“The work she has done in less than a year to get herself fit is phenomenal. She is a great role model for the kids in the Eastern Bay.”

Fifteen-year-old Williams played the second half at goal shoot and Araora said playing in the Beko League was an important part of her progress. She said Williams had shown maturity beyond her years.

Like Smith, Howe had played provincial netball under Araroa and Araroa said Howe had a lot of experience and knew what a winning culture looked like.

“This team is the footer team to the Magic and this competition puts them into a position to show their craft.

What the Eastern Bay kids get from coaches and the community, it makes them quite steely. It makes them grounded.

“We had great support from people coming over from the Eastern Bay on Sunday.”
Kelsey McPhee started at goal shoot and her and Smith combined well to score 16 goals from 17 attempts.

In the second quarter, South came out firing as Waikato Bay of Plenty appeared to lose the links and connections that were working so well in the first quarter.

Changes, including Williams, brought the game back for Waikato Bay of Plenty as they out-scored South by five goals in the third quarter.

Williams shot nine from 11 in the final quarter as Waikato Bay of Plenty wrapped up the win.

Waikato Bay of Plenty host Central in Hamilton on Sunday, starting at 2pm, and the game will be televised on Sky Sport.