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Classy Silver Ferns too good for Jamaica in series opener

Showcasing their overall dominance, the Silver Ferns opened the three-Test New World Netball Series for the Taini Jamison Trophy with a high quality 72-34 win over Jamaica in Nelson on Sunday.

In an historic first Test for Nelson, the Silver Ferns managed to get a number of players on against the Sunshine Girls, most notably defender Storm Purvis who entered the fray late in the piece to mark her international debut (Silver Fern #162).

There was plenty to admire from a rampant Silver Ferns, the visitors struggling to adapt in what was always going to be an uphill battle without either of their influential shooters Romelda Aiken or Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

In a moment to savour, goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was handed her first international start just four weeks after becoming a Silver Fern.

Selby-Rickit slotted in seamlessly, forming an instant rapport with fellow shooter Bailey Mes as the Silver Fens hit top gear early on. Building on the slick and accurate service provided by midcourters Laura Langman and Grace Rasmussen, the home team had few chinks in taking control and heading to a handy 19-8 lead at the first break.

There was little respite for the Sunshine Girls on the resumption, the young Jamaican team, in their first outing since last year’s Netball World Cup struggling to contain an on-song Silver Ferns.

The visitors showed plenty of their renowned flair, athleticism and aerial ability but lacked the finishing touches against the well-drilled Silver Ferns.

Solid and effective midcourt defence from Langman and Kayla Cullen stifled Jamaica’s attacking options which was well-supported by the in-circle pairing of Katrina Grant and Jane Watson. The smothering tactics helping the Silver Ferns hit the main break well placed at 35-15.

Both teams employed multiple changes for the second half, which for the Silver Ferns included Langman shifting to wing defence, Ameliaranne Ekenasio slotting into goal attack, hometown girl Shannon Francois coming off the bench to centre and Phoenix Karaka taking over at goalkeeper.

With shooter Vanessa Walker having an immediate impact and livewire centre Nicole Dixon making a lively contribution, Jamaica held their own initially. But it was only a matter of time before the Silver Ferns unleashed.

Impressing with their low error rate and ability to maintain a consistently high standard, the Silver Ferns dazzled with their finesse and finishing prowess to telling effect. Jamaica struggled to make an imprint against a relentless outing from the Silver Ferns who flew into the last break with a commanding 54-23 lead.

The teams head to Palmerston North for the second Test on Wednesday night.