Strong outing for Silver Ferns against Zimbabwe
The Silver Ferns superior speed and finishing won the day, providing too much for Zimbabwe, who failed to blunt the New Zealanders depth of talent and levels of accuracy.
In a physical encounter, the Silver Ferns again rotated their playing roster throughout while maintaining a consistent scoring effort across all four quarters, Zimbabwe eventually succumbing through a mounting penalty count against their more polished opposites.
“We were very ready for a physical battle and in those first seven or eight minutes we were going to-to-toe with them, so it was nice we could absorb that pressure and grind through it and finish strongly,” player of the match, Silver Ferns attacker, Gina Crampton said.
“I really like the thing we’ve got going on with our four shooters. We’re still playing the same structures no matter who’s on but each one brings something a little bit different which is good and we’re still just building through that.”
The Silver Ferns opted for a well-versed attacking line-up to start their opening match of Preliminary Stage Two which will determine seedings for the play-offs.
Captain Laura Langman (centre), Crampton (wing attack), Ameliaranne Ekenasio (goal attack) and Maria Folau were given plenty of food for thought after a purposeful and energetic start from Zimbabwe who came into the game on the back of two wins.
Playing in their first Netball World Cup, Zimbabwe level-pegged with the Silver Ferns until the midway stage of the opening quarter, the New Zealanders finding the measure of their opponents with Langman and Crampton instrumental in delivering a speedy transition through court.
A late burst, with shooters Folau and Ekenasio sharing the load perfectly, pushed the Silver Ferns out to a 21-10 lead at the first break.
Bailey Mes came on at goal shoot with Folau moving out to goal attack and Karin Burger replacing Katrina Rore at wing attack on the resumption, the game, at times, lifting to frenetic levels.
Zimbabwe had a strong contributor in goal shoot Pauline Jani who was deadly accurate under the hoop to keep a clean sheet through the first half but lacked consistent opportunities.
The Silver Ferns midcourt defence pressured Zimbabwe who struggled to penetrate, causing them to lose possession through the long passing option which the New Zealand defence was well set up for.
New Zealand’s transition and ball speed through court also created headaches for Zimbabwe, who could not match them in that department, the elusive Crampton featuring through her forceful second phase play.
Frantic exchanges from both teams caused turnovers either way but with Folau and defender Jane Watson dominating at both ends, the Silver Ferns went to halftime comfortably placed when leading 40-18.
After making multiple changes for the third stanza, including the introduction of Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal shoot, who continued her impressive form with a perfect 23 from 23 return under the hoop during the second half, Shannon Saunders at centre and Casey Kopua at goal defence.
The Silver Ferns maintained the same rate of scoring as the previous term, keeping a willing but tiring Zimbabwe at bay while forging a 59-26 lead at the last break.
The Silver Ferns meet Northern Ireland next up in the tournament at 2am on Wednesday (NZ time).