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ANN CONDER

A chilly start made way for perfect sporting conditions and netballers certainly made the most of it – Mrs Whippy was also in high demand for those on the sideline.

This was semifinals week as we head towards the end of the first round.

As it turned out, there were no real surprises and no close games in the senior competition.

That was not a surprise when fourth place is playing first place, but you would expect closer games when second place is playing third place.

In the A Grade 2 v 3 semi-final, Ex-Girls struggled to find footing against Dunstan A, who seemed to be more structured in all facets of the game.

Dunstan won that game 37-21, while Molyneux A beat Dunstan Senior B 39-16 in the other semifinal.

This means Molyneux A will be playing Dunstan A for first round honours.

That game is at 1.15pm on Saturday and will be well worth watching.

I had the pleasure of watching a pretty amazing display by a young team playing as a team and showing their love of the game.

Dunstan 10 A, joint leaders of B Grade, was playing Dunstan 11A, a game that I thought might have been quite close.

From the moment I started watching I was not only impressed by the skill of the younger team, but it was more the communication and team-manship that really shone through.

The girls were constantly encouraging and praising their team-mates, and at the breaks were talking together and listening to their coach Bethan Spooner.

The 10As won the game 36-16 thanks to a strong defensive zone that showed confidence and knowledge of the game, usually seen beyond the youth of this team.

Shooters Ada Bond and Isla Melton took the ball strongly and shot accurately, rewarding the efforts of the rest of their team.

I have mentioned before that it seems that the closest competition games this year appear to be in the Year 7/8 grade and this was evident when St Gerards Steel played Terrace Green in the 2 v 3 semifinal.

Both teams were playing without key players, propped up by three B team players in the case of Terrace Green.

St Gerard’s were the obvious favourites, but Terrace Green went out to a 9-3 lead until St Gerard’s got into their normal structured game and the scores were tied at half-time 9-9.

The teams scored goal for goal throughout the second half until the final whistle when the scores were still tied 17-17, sending the semifinal into extra time – five minutes each way.

The Terrace team finally won 20-18, giving them the passage through to the final against the unbeaten Cromwell College Jnr A at 1.15pm.

So, lots of promising netball this weekend at Molyneux Courts.

Starting on Wednesday evening this week, we will all be watching the Silver Ferns playing in the inaugural Cadbury Series, which involved games against the All Stars on Wednesday night, the NZ Men’s team on Thursday night and the Fiji Pearls on Friday night.

Finals will be played on Saturday night.

The All Stars team is made up of unsuccessful trialists for the Silver Ferns, so a great game is promised there.

The NZ Men’s team will play a totally different style of netball – more aerial and playing long, while the Fiji Pearls will have the usual flair and zip that we are used to seeing them play.

These games are televised on Sky Sport.

Obviously, these games are a lead-up to the Netball World Cup, which starts in Liverpool on July 12 with the Silver Ferns playing their first game against the Malawi Queens.

With only two weeks until game time, the Silver Ferns will be anxious to make the most of the Cadbury Series, seeking to cement the starting line-up for the games in England.

Other teams in the Silver Ferns’ pool are Barbados and Singapore.

Wow, I can’t wait to see all of these games, and am hoping to see a much more confident Silver Ferns team getting back to the strength that we expect from our national team.