Rata shades St Mary’s in final

Rata centre Hayley Crofts in action during the Invercargill Netball Centre final against St Mary...
Rata centre Hayley Crofts in action during the Invercargill Netball Centre final against St Mary’s at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Saturday. Rata won 55-35. Photo: Logan Savory
Hayley Crofts says she is a Rata girl for life.

She was not about to give up an opportunity to take the court for her beloved club in the Invercargill Netball Centre Premier A final on Saturday.

The former Southern Sting, Steel, Central Pulse, and Mainland Tactix netballer shifted from Invercargill to Christchurch three weeks ago to take up a job with F45 Training as a trainer.

When the tenacious midcourter departed she made a pact with her team-mates that she would return if Rata was to make the final.

On Saturday Crofts did just that, as she  and her Rata teammates combined to blitz St Mary’s 55-35 in the 2018 decider.

"I played the whole season, so I couldn’t miss the final," the 29-year-old said.

Defender Kendall McMinn had been with the Southern Steel in Nelson at the Super Club competition but she, too, ensured she was back in Invercargill in time to help her Rata club out.

Many were predicting a tight contest on Saturday.

Just a  couple of weeks ago, St Mary’s pipped Rata by one in the semifinals of the Southland-wide league.

St Mary’s also was defending champion. However, Rata was quick to make a statement in Saturday’s final when it  raced out to a 15-7 lead after the first quarter.

The lead remained at eight at halftime, before Rata put the foot down to ensure there were no second-half hiccups.

Rata won the second half 30-18 to lock in the commanding 55-35 score.

"It didn’t feel like as big of a gap as it was; it still felt like quite close the whole game," Crofts said.

"People did probably think it was going to be close, but we just had a really good start and led the whole way through. Its good to finally get a win because they’ve beaten us for the last few years."

It was the second final loss for  St Mary’s  in a matter of days:  it  lost the Southland-wide final to Gore club Ex High on Thursday night.

St Mary’s did have something to celebrate on Saturday with two  of its teams contesting the Invercargill Netball Centre Premier B final.

St Mary’s All Stars  picked up a win over St Mary’s Kowhai.

- Logan Savory

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