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NZ Men defeat Silver Ferns 54-50

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NZ Men’s Invitational team celebrated an historic occasion when they pulled off a 54-50 win over the Silver Ferns on day two of the Cadbury Netball Series in Auckland on Thursday.

Sharing the court for the first time in an international series, the NZ Men had to pull out all the stops to get over the line when the Silver Ferns drew level early in the run home in an entertaining and highly-skilled spectacle.

A gallant Silver Ferns were in the match the whole way, absorbing the physical style while producing some grit of their own during an ever-improving outing.

Getting her first game-time of the series, Te Paea Selby-Rickit earned the starter’s spot at goal attack for the Silver Ferns while Shannon Saunders (wing attack) and Phoenix Karaka (goal defence) were also included in the starting seven.

On the opposing side, there was no missing the imposing presence of the 2.18m Junior Levi, at goal shoot for the NZ Men.

The challenging prospect for the Silver Ferns was the height, speed and agility evident across the men’s team but, importantly, offering a diversity in style in helping their preparation towards next month’s Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.

The large crowd on hand enthusiastically embraced the match-up with a difference, both teams getting away to a willing and frantic start.

Having to steer clear of using the high ball and adopting more movement and a shorter game plan, the Silver Ferns impressed with their ability to stay in touch against the dynamic men’s style.

With Maria Folau and Levi trading shots at either end, a late burst pushed the NZ Men out to a 15-11 lead at the first break.

Impressing with their athletic ability and aerial skills, the men’s team threatened to open up proceedings when forging a seven-goal advantage. Ameliaranne Ekenasio (goal attack) and Gina Crampton (wing attack) got their opportunity in the second quarter to help stem the tide.

Against the odds, the defensive trio of Jane Watson, Karaka and Karin Burger hauled the Silver Ferns back into contention. Slowing the NZ Men on attack while picking off turnover ball, helped the Silver Ferns finish the quarter with a three-goal run as they trimmed the deficit to 26-21 at halftime.

Shooter Bailey Mes (for Folau), Casey Kopua (Karaka) and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Burger) joined the fray in the third quarter with terrific effect for the Silver Ferns. The new defensive combination continued to excel with Watson and Kopua soaring high to disrupt the NZ Men with turnover gains, ably supported by the hunting skills of Sokolich-Beatson.

Respective centres, captain Laura Langman and Kruze Tangira, playing against his idol, engaged in a thrilling individual contest with neither giving an inch while goalkeeper Matt Wetere had an impressive influence under the Silver Ferns hoop.

Ekenasio and Mes weathered the storm with some classy shooting, finishing with a three-goal run to take the honours for the quarter and narrow the lead to 37-35 in favour of the NZ Men at the last break.

Rebounding from yesterday’s 16-goal loss to the Silver Ferns, a slick All Stars team produced a resounding 99-32 win over the Fiji Pearls in the early game.

The All Stars set a cracking pace, the well-connected midcourt combination of Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness complementing the effective defensive hustle of Sulu Fitzpatrick, Kayla Cullen and Samantha Sinclair and shooting prowess of Aliyah Dunn and Maia Wilson.

After pouncing out to 27-8 and 49-13 leads after the first two quarters, the All Stars made a raft of changes for the second half. With the introduction of a new shooting combination in Ellie Bird and Monica Falkner, and Holly Fowler and Erena Mikaere lining up at the defensive end, there was no slip in intent.

Pushing out to a 74-21 three-quarter team lead, Dunn with 28 goals from 29 attempts and Bird, 46 from 50, helped the All Stars round out a decisive win.

The All Stars will meet the NZ Men in the early game tomorrow (Friday) followed by the Pearls against the Silver Ferns.

Official Result and Stats:

Silver Ferns: 50

NZ Invitational Men: 54

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