Silver Ferns secure first win over Proteas
AFTER back-to-back losses, the reigning Netball World Cup and Constellation Cup champions are on the board at the 2022 Quad Series. Though they will be battling it out against the same opponent for third spot tomorrow, the Silver Ferns gained the confidence-boosting 11-goal win over South Africa this morning. Both sides had gone down to Australia and England in the opening two matches, but the Silver Ferns proved a class above during their 54-43 triumph.
Using the match as a chance to mix things up ahead of the third placed final, the Silver Ferns opted for the towering combo of Grace Nweke and Maia Wilson in the goal circle, whilst the Proteas switched bibs between Lefébre Rademan (goal attack to goal shooter) and Ine-Mari Venter (goal shooter to goal attack). Izette Griesel (wing attack) and Bongi Msomi (centre) were also back to their starting positions of game one, with Monique Reyneke (wing defence) the choice. New Zealand’s defensive combination of Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick was chosen, with Karin Burger at wing defence.
The first three quarters went largely to plan for the Silver Ferns, bursting out of the blocks to score 15 goals to nine in the first term, then 16 goals to 10 in the second, to open up a huge 12-goal lead at the main break. After missing her three attempts in the opening term, Rademan was replaced by Sigrid Burger midway through the quarter, whilst both Venter (eight from eight) and Nweke (11 from 11) did not miss. Gina Crampton and Msomi were keeping their opposition defences on their toes with impressive feeds, though Burger was on top against Griesel.
Young gun Nicola Smith replaced Vimbela at goal defence for the second term to try and contain Wilson, and it got the desired effect with just one goal from two shots and one goal assist in the first five minutes. New Zealand subbed in the more mobile Tiana Metuarau for Wilson, with Metuarau scoring five from five and hitting up for goal assists for Nweke (10 of 11). Crampton’s ripping game continued, with Shannon Saunders also influential through the midcourt, and Phoenix Karaka picking up two rebounds, three gains and an intercept. It was the general play turnovers that was hurting the South Africans, and all of the shooters on the court were far more comfortable closer to the post than their English or Australian counterparts.
The third quarter saw Tshina Mdau come on for Reyneke at wing defence, and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan get her first run of the series at centre, with Saunders shuffling to wing attack and Crampton getting a well-earned rest. Reyneke and Mdau swapped again midway through the quarter, as Burger and Venter switched bibs only for Rademan to return for Burger at goal attack.
Meanwhile from the five-minute mark of the quarter to the four-minute mark of the term, the Silver Ferns had piled on 11 goals to one and blown out the score from 32-23 to 43-24. Metuarau’s impact of three goals at 100 per cent efficiency, four goal assists from five feeds, and an intercept was impressive, whilst Fitzpatrick and Karaka were superb in the defensive goal circle. Msomi kept working hard through the midcourt, but the South African attack was interrupted.
South Africa did not make any changes in the final term, with the Silver Ferns bringing on Wilson for Nweke, and Winders for Burger. South Africa looked a lot better with the combination, though that was largely due to Msomi still going strong and providing nine goal assists. Griesel enjoyed some more freedom without Burger there, and Rademan piled on six goals from six attempts, by far her best quarter of the series. The Proteas managed to outscore the Silver Ferns by five goals, 16-11 in the final term, but it mattered little as New Zealand recorded the 54-43 victory.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
Karaka won Player of the Match for the Silver Ferns, though it could have gone to a number of players. She stood up with six gains, two rebounds an assist and no turnovers, the only player on court for the entire match who did not commit a turnover. Nweke stepped up with 30 goals from 32 attempts, whilst Metuarau (15 from 16) played her best game of the series. Crampton was superb in the first half before being rested with 12 goal assists, a gain and an intercept, whilst Fitzpatrick and Burger did well on their respective opponents throughout, and Saunders recorded a team-high 14 goal assists.
Msomi was outstanding playing every minute of the match and picking up 22 goal assists from 38 feeds, and also grabbing a gain and only having three turnovers for the match. Venter scored 31 goals from 36 attempts, and Rademan’s last quarter saw her finish with seven goals from 10 attempts in total. Griesel was also cleaner with ball-in-hand, only recording three turnovers – after seven in her previous match – and notching up 16 goal assists. Smith was ultra-impressive with the teenager playing three quarters and collecting three gains, two rebounds and an intercept.
Both sides will face off again tomorrow, with the winner to be crowned the official third placed side of the 2022 Quad Series.
GS: Lefrebre Rademan
GA: Ine-Mari Venter
WA: Izette Griesel
C: Bongiwe Msomi
WD: Monique Reyneke
GD: Zanele Vimbela
GK: Phumza Maweni
GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Maia Wilson
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick