Fourth-Place Finish for FAST5 Ferns
Fourth-place finish for FAST5 Ferns
Defending champions New Zealand had to settle for a fourth-place finish in 2017 after falling 34-15 to Australia in the play-off phase at the FAST5 Netball World Series in Melbourne today.
Having the two super powers of the sport in the more traditional format playing off for third and fourth didn’t detract from the long-standing rivalry between the two foes as the game got away to a ferocious start.
The FAST5 Ferns made a promising start but as they had been throughout the tournament were hampered by an inability to make the most of their power play while battling a willing and determined Australian defensive effort.
Winners of the past four titles, the FAST5 Ferns came into Melbourne with a young, inexperienced team with five of the 10-strong squad playing the abbreviated version for the first time as their long-held domination came to an end.
The FAST5 Ferns took their time to adapt to the fast-paced, colourful version of the game played between the world’s top six teams and which incorporates six-minute quarters, rolling substitutions, super shots and power players.
But in the process, new mum Ameliaranne Ekenasio established herself admirably as New Zealand’s long bomb specialist to mark an impressive return to international netball just four months after the birth of her first baby.
Given an invaluable opportunity, a clutch of others such as athletic defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, captain Storm Purvis, Zoe Walker, Kayla Cullen and midcourt rookies Whitney Souness and Erikana Pedersen will gain plenty from the experience.
The FAST5 Ferns earned themselves a place in the third/fourth place play-off when edging a gallant Malawi 29-27 in an entertaining thriller.
Ekenasio, at the pressure-cooker shooting end, and livewire defender Fakahokotau were influential figures in helping the FAST5 Ferns fend off a determined Malawi who had earned more than a sniff of an upset.
Struggling to get the reward they were hoping for from their second quarter power play, the New Zealanders did well to limit the damage when Malawi had their turn, Ekenasio stepping up to drain two two-pointers and a much-needed three-pointer to steady the ship. The teams headed down the home straight with the scores locked at 25-all.
Diminutive midcourter Takondwa Lwazi and tall shooter Joyce Mvula added the spark to keep Malawi’s hopes alive but Ekenasio’s efforts from range and Fakahokotau’s ability to force turnovers were key factors.
The FAST5 Ferns hopes of defending their title were dashed in their opening match of day two when losing 30-23 to a well-performed Jamaica.
Coming into the day unbeaten after opening their account with three straight wins the day before, Jamaica proved their status as one of the teams to beat with an accomplished outing.
Ekenasio and towering Sunshine Girls shooter Jhanielle Fowler-Reid came into the match as the two best shooters from day one but it was the Jamaicans who got the upper hand with a superior conversion rate.
Jamaica couldn’t contain their unbeaten run, England reversing the result of pool play to edge the Sunshine Girls 34-29 in an entertaining final between the two best teams.
England 1, Jamaica 2, Australia 3, New Zealand 4, South Africa 5, Malawi 6.
Storm Purvis (captain)
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