Tutaia hails golden ending

Robert Lowe, NZ Newswire November 11, 2012, 10:44 pm

It's been a long netball season, but for shooter Maria Tutaia, finishing off with a gold medal eases all the tiredness.

New Zealand became the inaugural Fast5 world champions after pipping England 23-21 in the final in Auckland on Sunday and Tutaia was later named player of the tournament.

Along with most of the Fast5 Ferns squad, she had gone into the three-day event backing up after a Test program over the past two months comprising the Constellation Cup and the Quad Series.

"Words can't described it," she said on lifting the Fast5 silverware to go with the Constellation Cup that the Silver Ferns wrested off Australia.

"It been such a long, hard and tiring year, but heaps of positives have come out of it, which is really great to see.

"We've had players who have made huge gains in the last six months and to win the Fast5 for New Zealand and finish 2012 on a high is just absolutely amazing."

In a final dominated by defence, Tutaia, noted for her long-shooting, couldn't quite find her usual rhythm from distance and the three goals she got all came from close range.

But she still finished the tournament head and shoulders above all others in scoring from the two-point zone, the area just inside the goal circle.

She landed 27 from there, nine more than the next best tally by South Africa's Chrisna Bootha.

She also sank 11 "super shots" from outside the circle, putting her third in that category behind the English pair of Jo Harten (18) and Rachel Dunn (13).

Fast5 is an evolution from the previous shortened version of netball, Fastnet, and Tutaia said she loved its fun element.

She also saw potential for growth in interest, saying it contained the excitement of rugby sevens.