Men’s team wins title

Winners . . . The Dunedin men's netball team (back from left) manager Amanda Dore, physio Ashleigh Taylor, Matt Dunstan, Connor Ketchen, Brian McNabb, Josh Wassell, Francis Liardet, fitness trainer Bethany Robertson, Blake Taane, (front from left) captain Ryan Fitzgerald, John Mathias, Mark Dore, Byron Sanders, vice captain Jordan Te Amo and coach Richard Jocelyn won B grade in the New Zealand Mens Nationals 2019 last week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Dunedin men’s netball team is the New Zealand Men’s Netball Nationals B grade champion.

The team competed in the four-day tournament in Porirua last week.

Coach Richard Jocelyn said a whole team effort in the final, as well as some individual brilliance, secured the win against Northern Stormers.

“We got off to a slightly slow start and then got in front and never relented.”

Dunedin players Blake Taane, Ryan Fitzgerald, Connor Ketchen and Francis Liardet were standouts.

“They all just stepped up and made big plays when it counted, and so did all the boys around them.

“It was just one of those rewarding moments when you get to see a team finish a tournament they way you want them to.”

The team started the tournament with a 30-all draw with Wellington, before two convincing wins against Northern Stormers and Waikato Tainui B.

On day two it lost to a strong Australian Reserve side then beat Southland B.

“Coming out of pool play we were three wins, one loss and one draw,” Jocelyn said.

The pools then crossed over and Dunedin faced Nelson.

“That was a tough battle and the guys just stepped up another gear.

“They all played really well.”

The team won that game and the next match against Tamaki Makaurau B to secure its semifinal spot against Christchurch B.

Jocelyn said the semifinal was incredibly hard, and the team was trailing for three quarters of the match.

“We were playing OK but we just weren’t quite clicking.”

They were down by four goals heading into the final stanza and played “outstanding” to win the quarter 10-4.

“As a management team we were just sitting there watching in awe.

“It was really impressive,” Jocelyn said.

Its B-grade win means the team will compete in A grade next year.

Three Dunedin players were named in New Zealand squads, announced after the tournament.

Taane was named in the open men’s squad, Liardet in the open mixed squad, and Ketchen in the men’s 23 and-under squad.

They will attend training camps and trials in the next few months to earn a spot in their teams for the inaugural Men’s and Mixed Netball World Cup next year.

Jocelyn is the open men’s team manager.