Silver Ferns defeat Northern Ireland to clinch fifth win
Ahead of more pressing challenges, the Silver Ferns rounded out their preparations with a 77-28 win over Northern Ireland at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool on Wednesday morning (NZ time).
With five games in five days and five wins under their belt, the Silver Ferns now have a day off before meeting Australia in their last Preliminary Stage Two match on Thursday at 9.30pm (NZ time) which will determine seedings for the semi-finals.
With one eye on the game against Australia, the Silver Ferns were left with plenty to ponder after a clinical opening half was undone by a messy finish, Northern Ireland competing gamely to leave coach Noeline Taurua not entirely happy with today’s outing.
“I was happy for three-quarters of the game. We were in control and I could see what we were wanting to do but that last quarter I’m not happy with,” she said.
“It was a bit sloppy and the basic skills were not at the level I expect. Every time you take the court there’s an expectation and we didn’t meet it in that quarter.”
Taurua was happy with the 90 percent shooting returns from the match and praised the experience factor, singling out impressive defender Casey Kopua as having a ‘blinder’.
The Silver Ferns started with a formidable seven, with their most experienced campaigners Maria Folau (goal shoot), Laura Langman (centre) and Kopua (goal defence), all playing in their fourth World Cup, and Katrina Rore, again picking up the wing defence bib, attending her third, featuring.
The New Zealanders made a sizzling start, posting six unanswered goals in the first three minutes as Northern Ireland faltered under the early pressure.
Showing few chinks, the Silver Ferns continued to impress with the speed of their through-court transition, shooting accuracy and disruptive defensive pressive when they bolted out to a 22-7 lead at the first break.
For the first time in the tournament, the Silver Ferns retained their starting seven for the second stanza, with a similar pattern emerging on the resumption. The Silver Ferns scored the first seven goals while keeping Northern Ireland empty-handed for the first five minutes.
Northern Ireland could not contain the constant pressure exerted by the Silver Ferns. The pairing of Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio sparkled under the New Zealand hoop while at the defensive end, Kopua was in vintage form in picking up four intercepts, ably supported by the ever-present Jane Watson, with two.
Restricting Northern Ireland to just four goals, the Silver Ferns were well in control when leading 44-11 at the main break.
The Silver Ferns made changes for the third quarter with Bailey Mes coming on at goal shoot, Shannon Saunders to wing attack (for Gina Crampton) and Phoenix Karaka to goalkeeper while Folau moved to goal attack.
Taking time to settle, the Silver Ferns lost some of their momentum as the Northern Ireland defensive unit of Niamh Cooper, Fionnuala Toner and Michelle Magee did a fine job in holding up the New Zealanders flow.
Unable to maintain their scoring rate of the first half, the Silver Ferns were, however, largely untroubled in hitting the last turn with a handsome 61-17 lead.
With Te Paea Selby-Rickit (goal shoot) and Karin Burger (wing defence) introduced for the final quarter, all 12 players were again given opportunities in the final game before the more demanding matches ahead.