Cadbury Netball Series | Day 1 Match Report
In their first official match together, the Silver Ferns opened the Cadbury Netball Series with a flourish to post an encouraging 61-45 win over a well-credentialled All Stars in Auckland on Wednesday night.
Fresh from a training camp on the Sunshine Coast, the Silver Ferns continued to improve the longer the match wore on as they put the polish on their preparations ahead of next month’s Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
With match-ups across the court in a showcase of New Zealand’s best talent, the Silver Ferns kept their noses in front through an entertaining and fast-paced first half of the much-anticipated clash.
The first hit-out provided the opportunity to test a variety of combinations against the best of the rest, the Silver Ferns impressing with their ability to soak up the pressure before producing an effective response.
Both sets of shooters made impressive starts, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maria Folau teaming up for the Silver Ferns in style, benefitting from more ball in their hands to push their team to a narrow lead.
In the unfamiliar position of goal attack for the All Stars, Maia Wilson impressed with her movement and accuracy alongside Aliyah Dunn but they were unable to prevent the Silver Ferns hitting the first break with a 17-13 lead.
Karin Burger and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson shared the wing defence duties for the Silver Ferns through the first half, both teams otherwise remaining unchanged.
The All Stars kept the Silver Ferns honest through much of the second stanza, the speed and court craft of wing attack Whitney Souness helping set up Wilson and Dunn as her team twice narrowed the gap to just one goal.
A late rally by the Silver Ferns where the long-standing combination of Folau and captain Laura Langman rose to the occasion helped the women in black finish with a flourish when they took a 30-25 lead into halftime.
Both teams made multiple changes for the third quarter, the All Stars adjusting quickest to score five goals on the trot to move back within one of the Silver Ferns.
Absorbing the early onslaught, the Silver Ferns found their groove on attack with Bailey Mes (replacing Folau) having a strong impact. At the other end of the court, Burger made her presence felt in providing turnover opportunities.
With the defensive wall of Langman, Burger, Phoenix Karaka and Casey Kopua stifling the All Stars attacking momentum, it was the Silver Ferns who had the upper hand when taking a 43-35 lead into the last break.
More changes to both teams in the final stanza provided fresh legs but the All Stars were unable to stem a growing confidence from the Silver Ferns who continued to stretch their advantage.
With history being created earlier in the evening, the NZ Men opened the four-team series with a comprehensive 93-19 win over the Fiji Pearls.
In the first ever international series where women and men have played on the same court, the NZ Men showcased an impressive skillset and the extensive scope of their game through superior height, speed, agility and timing.
The Pearls could not contain their opponents flow through court and aerial ability as the NZ Men dominated across the court to decisively win each quarter 22-2, 21-8, 27-4, 23-5. Goalkeeper Episake Kahatoka was a shining light for Fiji with her ability to create turnover opportunities.
Centre court attackers Kruze Tangira and the experienced Junior Manapori were instrumental in providing a constant supply plenty of quality to ball to shooters Daniel Jefferies and Cameron Powell, who were a model of consistency in the first half.
Things didn’t get any easier for Fiji in the second half with the introduction of towering NZ Men’s shooter Junior Levi, who stands at 2.18m, following his perfect return of 29 goals from 29 attempts.
The Pearls and All Stars square off tomorrow night (Thursday) followed by the Silver Ferns against the NZ Men.
Official Result and Stats:
All Stars: 45
Shooting Stats - Silver
Maria Folau 21/24 (88%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 21/26 (81%)
Bayley Mes 19/20 (95%)
Shooting Stats - Magic:
Aliyah Dunn 19/24 (79%)
Maia Wilson 12/14 (86%)
Ellie Bird 9/10 (90%)
Monica Falkner 5/9 (56%)
MVP: Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Silver Ferns)
NZ Invitational Men: 93
Shooting Stats - Fiji
Matila Vocea 9/12 (75%)
Lydia Panapasa 5/5 (100%)
Laisani Waqa 4/8 (50%)
Kaitlyn Fisher 1/3 (33%)
Shooting Stats - NZ
Daniel Jefferies 37/44 (84%)
Junior Levi 29/29 (100%)
Cameron Powell 27/29 (93%)
MVP: Cameron Powell (NZ