Rematch for Silver Ferns in final against NZ Men
The Silver Ferns will meet the NZ Men in tomorrow’s final after overpowering the NZU21s 81-33 on the third day of the Cadbury Netball Series in Palmerston North on Friday.
Playing for spots in the team to meet England next week, there was no shortage of incentive for the Silver Ferns with all candidates getting plenty of opportunity to press their claims as they turned on a classy outing against their young opponents.
Continuing to manage workloads, shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Te Paea Selby-Rickit were rested from the Silver Ferns today while midcourters Claire Kersten and Kimiora Poi returned after playing for NZA in the previous game.
NZU21s shuffled their starting line-up with a new-look shooting end of Khiarna Williams and Hannah Glen while captain Tiana Metuarau slotted in at wing attack.
The closeness of the early exchanges quickly evaporated as the Silver Ferns built into their work before flexing their collective muscle and powering into a position of dominance. Showing patience on attack, shooters Maia Wilson and Monica Falkner worked well in tandem, both missing just the one goal apiece during the first stanza.
Staring at a big penalty count, the NZU21s ball supply dried up, having just the 11 shots at goal compared to the Silver Ferns 22 during the opening 15 minutes. Williams was accurate but lacked enough ball in her hands as the Silver Ferns stretched out to a 20-10 lead at the first break.
Gina Crampton (wing attack), Sam Winders (centre), Kersten (wing defence) and Grace Nweke (goal shoot) were injected on the resumption for Shannon Saunders, Poi, Karen Burger and Wilson respectively.
The changes were seamless as the Silver Ferns continued to put the squeeze on the NZU21s. Punishing the slightest of errors from their opponents, the Silver Ferns delivered a clinical second 15 minutes with Winders and Kersten instrumental in shutting down the NZU21s attacking thrust.
The NZU21s struggled to contain Nweke, who found good space in the circle to slot 16 goals from 17 while Falkner with 17 from 18, continued to impress in her comeback after being out of netball for 15 months with a serious knee injury.
Slightly overwhelmed the NZU21s faced wave after wave of attack from the Silver Ferns, being restricted to just six goals and facing a 45-16 deficit at the main break.
The well-performed NZU21s in-circle defensive pairing of Parris Mason and Taneisha Fifita slowed the Silver Ferns scoring speed during the third stanza. But it was the other end of the court where the youngsters had problems.
Time and again, the Silver Ferns picked off ball from the NZU21s transition through court, leaving the shooters just scraps to play with. That was mirrored when they were restricted to seven shots. There was no respite when the long-limed Kelly Jury took over from the imposing presence of Sulu Fitzpatrick at goalkeeper as the young shooters struggled to shift the menacing defensive attention.
There was no stopping the rampant Silver Ferns who marched into the last break with a handsome 62-23 lead.
In testing the extent of their combinations, the Silver Ferns made more changes in the run home while the NZU21s gave a them a good run for their money as they continued to battle on gamely.