Skip to main content

Road win in Round 2 from Nelson




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)