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Match Wrap | Cadbury Netball Series Game Day 2

Showcasing their special brand of skills, the NZ Men outclassed the Silver Ferns 60-47 on the second day of the Cadbury Netball Series in Palmerston North on Thursday.

Played at a quick clip throughout, the NZ Men delivered a powerful second half to shut the Silver Ferns out of the game after a competitive first 30 minutes between the pair.

The Silver Ferns had their moments but were unable to sustain their momentum against the aerial skills and athletic ability in an impressive outing from NZ Men as evidenced by imposing shooter Junior Levi, who showcased his all-round skillset by finishing the game at goalkeeper.

Giving all players opportunities to press their claims ahead of next week’s Cadbury Netball Series against England, there were changes to the Silver Ferns line-up for this match.

After playing for NZA on the opening day, shooter Monica Falkner and midcourters Whitney Souness and Sam Winders came into the Silver Ferns on day two while extensive changes were made throughout the match.

Showing their full repertoire of skills, the NZ Men got away to a flyer. Spectacular ball skills, speed on transition and dominance in the air from their opponents put the Silver Ferns squarely on the back foot through the opening stanza.

Taking time to adjust, the Silver Ferns found the defensive wall of Jaryn Tainui (wing defence), Jake Schuster (goal defence) and Joseph Tukaki (goalkeeper) difficult to breach. At the other end, the razzle dazzle on attack was complimented by the finishing prowess of 2.14m shooter Levi as the NZ Men shot out to a 17-10 lead at the first break.

Teenaged shooter Grace Nweke was injected into the game on the resumption for Maia Wilson, getting her second opportunity in the black dress, while Karin Burger (wing defence) and Sulu Fitzpatrick (goalkeeper) also came off the bench.

Nweke matched Tukaki well for height, giving the Silver Ferns more opportunities under the hoop with the tall shooter up for the challenge. However, the rangy Schuster remained a threat with his ability to snaffle intercepts.

Wing attack Souness revelled in having the taller target of Nweke to aim for while also making a nuisance of herself on defence as the Silver Ferns turned on a competitive and productive second quarter.

Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio found her range to sink a succession of long-range shots to peel back the deficit, the Silver Ferns finding their groove to trim the NZ Men’s lead to 30-25 at the main break.

The Silver Ferns made multiple changes for the third quarter with only Winders (wing defence) remaining on court from the second quarter line-up. The return of influential captain Kruze Tangira, after missing the second quarter, coincided with a big shift in momentum for NZ Men.

The gifted midcourter was in the thick of action while marshalling an explosive lift which pushed the NZ Men into a position of dominance.

Winders had a strong quarter for the Silver Ferns while picking off some timely intercepts but a four-goal deficit quickly turned into a 47-36 lead for the NZ Men at three-quarter time.

In the day's earlier match, NZA took the full 60 minutes to survive a spirited onslaught from their young opponents before sealing a tense 57-53 win over the NZ Under 21s.

The immensely talented NZU21s came of age in pushing their more experienced opponents throughout, just falling short in a frantic final stanza.

In an enthralling game, where the lead changed hands several times, the NZU21s showed plenty of enterprise and maturity as they continue their preparations towards next year’s Netball World Youth Cup.

With fewer shots at goal, the NZU21s were well served by standout shooter and Player of the Match Saviour Tui who converted 40 from 44.

More crossing of players between the respective squads was once again highlighted in a series featuring the best of the best in New Zealand.

That included Kimiora Poi, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Claire Kersten coming into NZA for today’s match after turning out for the Silver Ferns on the opening day while Tayla Earle went into the U21s from NZA.

The NZU21s set the tone early, dominating the opening stanza while belying their youthful status. The opening day connection between shooters Saviour and captain Tiana Metuarau continued to thrive on day two as the dynamic pairing made all the right moves while producing a perfect shooting return in the first quarter.

In-circle U21 defender Parris Mason threw herself into everything at the other end to put the NZA shooters off their stride while strongly-built wing defence Renee Savai’inaea did her bit to slow the attacking momentum of her opposing attackers.

Taking time to warm up, NZA found their feet late in the piece to get themselves back in the contest but could not stop the NZU21s taking a 17-15 lead into the first break.

The only change on the resumption was Kersten coming on at wing defence for NZA in place of Kate Heffernan. Tightening their defensive end paid dividends for NZA who levelled the match after five minutes.

Midway through Georgia Tong came on at goalkeeper for NZA, with immediate effect with her long reach and hunting ability closing down the threat of the NZU21s potent attacking line.

Metuarau made the shift to wing attack allowing for Khiarna Williams and her extra height to take over at goal attack.
The teams traded goals before NZA nudged ahead, Kersten proving a strong distributor through the midcourt in helping provide more ball on attack as her team took a narrow 30-29 lead at the main break.

The absorbing contest continued to ride on a knife edge through the opening stages of the third quarter before a run of five goals pushed NZA into a four-goal lead. Tong and captain Erena Mikaere got their hands to turnover opportunities with Aliyah Dunn, playing at goal attack, providing the finishing under the hoop.

Not to be outdone, the young guns rallied one last time, with in-circle defenders Mason and Paris Lokotui throwing themselves into the action with effective vigour while Tui and Metuarau, back at goal attack, delivered their special magic under the hoop.

In doing so, the NZU21s again closed the gap, leaving the game delicately poised when NZA took a 44-43 lead into the last turn.

OFFICIAL RESULTS AND STATS:

Silver Ferns: 47
NZ Men: 60
Official Champion Data Statistics

Shooting Stats - Silver Ferns:
Grace Nweke 16/24 (68%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 12/14 (86%)
Maia Wilson 11/15 (73%)
Monica Falkner 8/13 (62%)

Shooting Stats - NZ Men:
Junior Levi 40/44 (91%)
Quintin Gerber 6/7 (86%)
Dan Jefferies 9/13 (69%)
Cameron Powell 5/7 (71%)
Ben Smith 0/1 (0%)

MVP: Kruze Tangira

NZA: 57
NZ Under 21s: 53
Official Champion Data Statistics

Shooting Stats - NZA:
Ellie Bird 33/41 (83%)
Aliyah Dunn 14/19 (74%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 7/9 (78%)
Jamie Hume 2/3 (67%)

Shooting Stats - NZ Under 21s:
Saviour Tui 40/44 (91%)
Tiana Metuarau 9/10 (90%)
Khiarna Williams 4/5 (80%)

MVP: Saviour Tui

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