After three days of intense competition, the finalists for the New Zealand Age Groups Netball Championships U23 and U19 have been found in Dunedin.

In the U23 competition, the 2014 final will be another showdown between the teams which contested the final 12 months ago - Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone (WBOP) and Netball South Zone.

WBOP beat North in the morning 61-50 to put themselves back in contention for the final after going down to Netball South Zone the previous day. Their evening match was a must-win against Central Zone, with WBOP goal attack Brooke Leaver shooting from the two-point zone earning her side the win to progress through to the final.

South’s journey to the final has been similar and a confidence-boosting 73-46 win over Mainland Zone late Wednesday evening to secure their position.

With Central Zone also in the mix, the two top teams were only separated by goal differential, Central very unlucky to miss out after losing only one match.

All of the Under 23 teams have dropped at least one match over the course of the competition and the final matches on Thursday are expected to go down to the wire. Earlier in the week, Netball South Zone beat WBOP 61-53.

Central Zone will play North Zone in the play-off for third.

In the Under 19 competition, it will be a new-look final with East Waikato facing Manawatu. Both sides came through nail-biting semi-finals late Wednesday evening to progress.

Manawatu defeated neighbours Wellington in extended extra time 51-49, while East Waikato were too good for North Harbour 38-36.

Defending champions Auckland 1 lost their first game of the week, going down to Manawatu earlier in the day 40-38. Manawatu got off to a great start forcing Auckland 1 to play catch-up the entire match. In the end, Manawatu fended off wave after wave of attack and despite loud, vocal support from the Auckland bench.

For the U23’s and U19’s full draw for Thursday, please click here.


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