Silver Ferns take first win of Netball World Cup

A STRONG start for NEW Zealand’s Silver Ferns solidified their first win of the Netball World Cup with a dominant 76-27 win over Trinidad & Tobago with versatility playing key.

The reigning champions defensive pressure right out the mark was impeccable with plenty of intercepts coming left, right and centre keeping the Calypso girls to just two goals for the first term with both coming from Joelisa Cooper (10 goals) where the Kiwis scored 23 of their own, heavily contributing to their 49-goal win.

A 13-goal run in the first term is what hurt the Trinidadians and Tobagonians the most, unable to win ball with the Ferns attack line fitting so seamlessly. The Silver Ferns were able to use all channels of the court and give the first option, allowing the ball to do the work around the court rather than chasing one another.

Cooper was the constant cog in Trinidad & Tobago’s attack end with her creativity and unorthodox style of play keeping the defenders guessing and heads turning. 

A picture perfect intercept from player of the match Karin Burger (six intercepts, three deflections, one rebound) in the opening quarter raised the expectations that were on the Silver Ferns with their defensive structures working immensely. It was a telegraphed pass due to the pressure that the Silver Ferns were placing, pushing the Calypso girls wide, closing off the middle channel, and allowing the Kiwi defenders a chance to do what they love doing, going out for a hunt. Burgers read on the cross court passes were a highlight in New Zealand’s game 

A rejig in positions for the Silver Ferns took a moment to gel, giving the Calypso girls a chance to take advantage. Cooper let her experience shine with her vision into the circle and bullet-like passes as a little bit of flare was introduced to all the players’ game.

It was a tough day at the office for the Trinidad & Tobago defenders with stalwarts Grace Nweke (31) being such a strong holding target in the circle with great elevation and wide split, and captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio’s (eight) playmaking and circle entry being deadly.

As the game continued, the Calypso girls kept on getting better and better, not letting the scoreline get to them against the defending world champions as they led 43 – 11 at half time. The Trinidad and Tobago shooters really game to light with the bounce pass coming handy and sneaking the ball through the smallest of cracks, giving the shooters a place to shoot right underneath the post as they stayed accurate.

The Silver Ferns took their first victory of the Netball World Cup against a fearless Trinidad & Tobago side in the first round of the Preliminaries One Stage. New Zealand go on to face Uganda in the second round and Trinidad & Tobago will see Singapore.

Tonga (56) defeated Fiji (51)

A guaranteed close encounter proved to be an entertaining one with the two top Pacific sides facing off, trying to assert their dominance early. Fiji took the first quarter 11 – 15, but Tonga made the rest of the game their own, taking the third term convincingly (14 – 8) and running away with it. Uneeq Palavi had a day out at the post, slotting 39 goals from 41 attempts while being a strong holding and moving target for her fellow Tongan midcourters, alongside captain Hulita Veve (21 goal assists, four intercepts, two deflections) who also had a mighty timeout of court.

The Pearls benefited from their even shooting load which kept the Tongan defenders guessing which player to cover as the other was to shoot it majority of the time. Kelera Nawai-Caucau proved her experience was extremely valued as she had an absolute blinder back in goal keeper for Fiji getting seven intercepts, four deflections and three rebounds. It was a nail-biting finish with Tonga just getting over the line by five-goals after their first quarter lapse.

Australia (86) defeated Zimbabwe (30)

The world number one side in the Australian Diamonds got off to a shaky start with a surprise lead of nine-goals at the first break, 20-11 with some at home thinking the lead would have been bigger, but the Gems took their unorthodox style of play and ran with it. The Gems ran hot with their vision into their goal circle, giving any pass they saw which was paying off most of the time. Elizabeth Mushore had a night to remember with four intercepts, four deflections and two rebounds, but proved costly in giving the Diamonds free shots at the post racking up 25 contact penalties, just one shy of Australia’s total penalty count.

Courtney Bruce on the other hand had a field day with seven reflections, four intercepts, and three rebounds earning player of the match honours. The ball handling load was relatively even amongst all Diamonds proving that there were always three options to the ball and if one player dropped down in workrate then another would step up. The Diamonds broke away in the second quarter, turning up another gear and running away with the score, continuing to break away at the lead and convert off their turnovers as they took their 56-goal win.

Uganda (79) defeated Singapore (37)

Massive quarter scores for the She Cranes helped immensely in getting their first win as they took out the game 22, 20, 20, 17. Margret Baagala was a force to be reckoned with in the middle for Uganda having the ball on a string. Her 33 goal assists reflects her court craft in her ability to put herself in prime feeding positions where the shooters were getting the ball in a good spot and slotting them in majority of the time.

Amandeep Chahal had a day at the post with 23 goals, taking most of Singapore’s shooting load out at goal attack, just proving how important her role was in getting the goals and getting the ball into the circle. But the 69 percent shooting percentage is what let the Singaporeans down with only three offensive rebounds to counter off the hand of Uganda’s 13 defensive rebounds. The She Cranes proved to be too good as Singapore hoped to produce a better performance against Trinidad & Tobago.

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