Dominant win for Silver Ferns in Taini Jamison Trophy opener
The Silver Ferns opened their Taini Jamison Trophy campaign with a comprehensive 75-42 win over the Malawi Queens at the North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday.
With captain Katrina Grant playing a prominent role, the Silver Ferns delivered on the hard work put in behind the scenes at two recent training camps to control proceedings from the outset.
The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for exciting young defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson who became Silver Fern No 169 when introduced for the last quarter, celebrating her debut in front of a home crowd.
She was joined in the final 15 minutes by shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio, coming back to test-match netball for the first time since the birth of her son last year and Claire Kersten, the hard-working wing defence making her second test appearance after coming into the squad as injury cover.
Challenged with injuries in the squad, Bailey Mes got the start at goal attack while Samantha Sinclair suited up at wing defence after Kayla Cullen had been ruled out of the series and Temalisi Fakahokotau was side-lined for this match with a rolled ankle.
Taking advantage of a loose start by Malawi, the Silver Ferns were out of the blocks quickly. Slick driving play on attack led by the smooth execution of Grace Kara and strong baseline play from shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit gave the home team all the early momentum.
Having only arrived in the country the day before, Malawi struggled for answers, a nine-goal scoring streak sealing an impressive opening stanza as the Silver Ferns jumped out to an 18-6 lead at the first break.
It was more of the same to start the second quarter, the Silver Ferns oppressive through-court defence limiting the visitors’ attacking options. Dangerous Malawi shooter Mwai Kumwenda had little impact early on, being well-contained by Kelly Jury but with the introduction of goal attack Sindi Simtowe began to find her feet.
Showing some of her trademark athleticism, timing and shooting ability, Kumwenda helped Malawi construct a late surge as the Silver Ferns took a 36-17 lead into the main break.
Veteran shooter Maria Folau made her entrance for the Silver Ferns at the start of the second half, immediately forming a strong connection with Selby-Rickit under the hoop while showcasing her traditional pass and cut movements and shooting skills.
Malawi competed on level terms for much of the third term before the Silver Ferns burst back into dominant mode with a five-goal run. Continuing to extend their lead, the Silver Ferns had the luxury of introducing some of their bench for the run home when leading 56-29 at the last break.
Earlier, the Jamaica Sunshine Girls stamped their mark in the opening match featuring the other two participants in the series with a decisive 83-38 win over the Fiji Pearls.
With towering shooters Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid having half a game each, the pair had a telling impact, the talented Jamaica team overcoming a slow start to unleash a dominant second half.
The Silver Ferns will meet Jamaica in the late game tomorrow (Thursday).