Nelson vs. Wellington: Saints Pull Away From Giants Late

The Wellington Saints improved to 2-0 in the 2024 Sal’s NBL with an attritional win over the Nelson Giants on Saturday afternoon. Another sold out Trafalgar Centre awaited the Saints, and the fans were rewarded early as the Giants accelerated to a 7-0 start. Hyrum Harris eventually got the 12-time champs on the board and the battle began in earnest. The Saints were missing Lat Mayen (shoulder), who failed a late fitness test, but were boosted by the return of Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa. The Tall Blacks and Breakers guard looked to shoot himself into form early and, while the shots weren’t dropping, Harris and Tohi Smith-Milner were gobbling up the offensive rebounds to keep the Saints well and truly in the contest.

The Saints began to find a semblance of flow and form in the second and third quarter, with Harris regularly bullying his way to the rim, Ben Ayre using his speed and guile to find open looks, and Smith-Milner continuing to dominate the glass. For the Giants it was the tenacity of Dan Grida who prevented the game from blowing out early in the second half, and the brilliance of Dan Fotu who clawed the Giants back level at the end of the third. The Tall Blacks power forward hit four three-pointers in the third quarter to give the Trafalgar Centre crowd plenty to cheer about with ten minutes to go.

The Giants needed that offence in the fourth, but it didn’t come. They only managed 10 points in the final ten minutes, as the Saints turned the screws defensively and the Giants failed to look after the ball (24 turnovers for the game!). So the Saints claimed the win in an ultimately scrappy affair. The Giants are in desperate need of the cavalry to arrive (2 import sports remain open, and Sam Dempster is touted to return from injury next week), while the Saints will be happy to lodge another win despite being undermanned.

Result: Nelson Giants (75) lost to Wellington Saints (84)

Leading Players

[Home Team]: Dan Grida (27pts, 11reb) Dan Fotu (20pts, 10reb)

[Away Team]: Hyrum Harris (22pts, 10reb), Tohi Smith-Milner (20pts, 12reb)

MVP Votes: Hyrum Harris (Saints) - 10 votes, Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints) - 7 votes, Dan Grida (Giants) - 7 votes, Dan Fotu (Giants) - 3 votes, Ben Ayre (Saints) - 2 votes, Izayah Le'Afa (Saints) - 1 vote



In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

The Giants youngsters maintained their unbeaten record in the Sky Broadband Rapid League game but had their toughest test yet, being taken to overtime by the Saints.

Hayden Jones saw his first Rapid League action, and made the most of it, finishing with 15 points (5-5fg) and getting what he wanted at the rim.

Troy Plumtree and Kazlo Evans jnr led the way for the Saints as the two teams were inseparable in the fast-paced, often helter-skelter, shortened game.

An overtime stint from Ernie Kerr forced a key turnover, which in the 1-minute long overtime period, was enough to be decisive.

Result: Nelson Giants (43) defeated Wellington Saints (41)

Leading Players

[Home Team]: Hayden Jones (15pts, 5-5fg), Ernie Kerr (6pts, 6reb)

[Away Team]: Troy Plumtree (8pts, 8reb), Kazlo Evans Jnr (11pts, 3reb)

MVP Votes: Hayden Jones (Giants) - 10 votes, Kazlo Evans Jr. (Saints) - 8 votes, Ernie Kerr (Giants) - 4 votes, Nick Davidson (Giants) - 3 votes, Tyson Thata-Paese (Saints) - 4 votes, James Matthews (Giants) - 1 vote


Form is temporarily not available. Please visit our contact page.