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Shooting Torch Passes From Irene Van Dyk To Maria Tutaia

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Irene Van Dyk and Maria Tutaia

The 66-64 double extra time victory for the New Zealand Silver Ferns over the Australia diamonds in last night's Delhi Commonwelath Games netball final has seen the passing of the NZ shooting torch.

Irene van Dyk for so long the mainstay of New Zealands shooting circle may have played her last match for the Silver Ferns. At 38 and having won a World Championship and two Commonwealth Games gold medals there is nothing left to achieve. Her place as New Zealand's greatest goal shoot will be secure for a long time and may never be eclipsed.

Maria Tutaia, her partner in the shooting circle throughtout the entire match is at the other end of the scale. Only 23 years old but still having notched up 52 test caps, Tutaia is poised to take over the mantle of New Zealand's premier shooter.

Australia’s defence plan was simple last night. Use Susan Fuhrman to mark van Dyk out of the game and force Tutaia to shoot from distance.

The plan would have worked, but Tutaia kept slotting the goals. Van Dyk put up only 29 attempts in the match and slotted 25 of them for an 86% success rate. Tutaia at goal attack and normally only a support player to van Dyk put up a massive 50 attempts and netted 41 of them for an 82% success rate. Considering the distance many of those shots were taken from it was a remarkable achievement.

Fittingly, it was Tutaia who lined up the final shot in double extra time and won the gold for New Zealand. For so long New Zealand netball fans have dreaded contemplating life after Irene. Now they can rest easy knowing that the torch of our premier shooter has passed to a young player who has proven herself in the hottest cauldron of all and won a game for her country.

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