NZ Silver Ferns/Aotearoa Men’s Cadbury Netball Series: Match 1 wrap

A HUGE opening match of Cadbury Netball Series action saw the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Aotearoa Men’s go head-to-head in an intriguing encounter, with the Ferns’ connections and composure ringing true as they ran home with an 11-goal victory over their male counterparts. While the Men’s got off to a flying start, the Ferns proved they had the endurance to run out the full match, despite missing a couple of key figures, and outlasted the Men’s squad with a huge final quarter of action.

It was an intriguing start to the first test as the Ferns and Men’s team tested each other out early, with the Men’s getting an early tip and looking fired up from the get-go. It was a sstrong start from goaling duo Daniel Jefferies and Jay Geldard to post, using their flair to impact inside the circle and stay away from Ferns defensive duo Karin Burger and Kelly Jury, while Josh Eriata Vercoe ran riot early, having little issue finding Geldard’s towering figure in the circle. Despite a somewhat inaccurate start at the other end with Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Maia Wilson missing a couple of sitters under pressure, it was more a lack of opportunity that had the Ferns lagging, as Jaryn Taunui and Victor Godsmark-White‘s strong start in defence looked hard to stop. A caution to Tyrah Lauagiagi for persistent breaking did not interrupt the Men’s flow, as they headed into the first break with a seven-goal lead.

Where the Men’s team had control in the first, the Ferns took back control in the second to command the ball and play their own game. A talking to from coach Noeline Taurua seemed to do the trick as the Ferns ramped up their defensive play and stuck to their structures, as changes were made in the front-end. Grace Nweke and Jamie Hume took the court in the goal circle, with Nweke’s height in particular a better match for Godsmark-White, and using her strength to pull in the high ball and draw the contact. The Ferns midcourt combination of Maddy Gordon and Gina Crampton had little issue getting the ball into the circle, however it was a matter of inaccuracy out the front as Nweke was almost forced to do the goaling job alone. Hume only sunk two of her eight attempts, seeing Selby-Rickit return, yet unable to impact with six straight misses to her name credit to the hard work and hands over pressure from Tainui, Godsmark-White and Josh McCombie. However, Claire Kersten ramped up her workrate to negate Vercoe and left the Men’s team with little avenues to goal, with Jefferies well held by Burger and taken off for playmaker Amosa Faitaua-Nanai in the last five, seeming to have an immediate impact. The two teams headed into halftime on 24 goals apiece, with pockets of consistency and energy showcasing a huge second half was yet to come.

With scores level heading into the second half and the Ferns looking like they were only just getting started, it was the Men’s squad that got off to a quick start as Faitaua-Nanai remained on court with his playmaking directing some great ball into Geldard at the post. But Nweke’s hot start had her confidence up and the youngster did not relent, absorbing the pressure and working in tandem with Wilson, who returned to the court in goal attack, to continuously find avenues to post. A couple of three-goal runs were challenged as the Men’s early third quarter lead was evaporated by a quick turnover, before the Ferns showcased their dash and dare with a great final five minutes, credit to Kersten’s great cover on Vercoe and Jury’s newfound stranglehold on Geldard at the post. Where the Ferns started introducing some variety to their game, making it harder to anticipate their ball movement, the Men’s team appeared to lose a little bit of composure, almost too relaxed in their court craft and allowing Burger to wreak havoc. A relatively even quarter saw the Ferns retain the upper hand heading into the final term, and despite slight inaccuracy to post, looked like they meant business leaving the court with a one-goal lead at the final change.

The Ferns put on nothing short of a clinic in the final term, starting strong and not relenting as they took control and made every chance count. Impact wing attack Shannon Saunders once again proved critical with her fresh legs and smarts paying off in attack, and seeing the Ferns lose some of their hesitance feeding into the goal circle. Where the Men’s team had become slightly relaxed in the third, they became predictable in the final term as fatigue set in with Jury and Burger’s defensive hustle outclassing the Men’s at every turn. It was a case of not enough scoring opportunity for the Men’s as the Ferns ran riot, picking off plenty of loose ball and showcasing their continued hunt to stop the ball from entering the hands of Geldard at the post. A run of five goals put the Ferns up by an unassailable 10 goals as the final minutes rolled around, taking out the first of three tests 58-47.

In a surprise to no one, Burger earned player of the match for her high impact play, finishing with four gains (three intercepts) while Jury was just as impactful with 10 deflections (four resulting in a gain) and Crampton registered a game-high five pickups to go with her 14 goal assists and 17 centre pass receives. Nweke impressed to post with 39 goals from 44 attempts at 89 per cent, picking off seven rebounds to ensure the Ferns made the most of their rampant attempts. Wilson, despite sitting on 57 per cent accuracy, played a high impact game especially in the second half, putting up 12 goals from 21 attempts but also registering 12 goal assists in a solid effort. Selby-Rickit (five from 13) and Hume (two from eight) had their moments, but overall did not quite have the intended impact. For the Men’s, Geldard missed just one attempt to sit on 35 goals at 97 per cent, as both Jefferies nd Faitaua-Nanai put up six from seven apiece, though the latter also managed seven assists. Vercoe led the assists category with 23 to his name, also managing four pickups but a whopping eight general play turnovers, while Nick Grimmer was solid through the centre with 12 assists and three pickups. Defensively, McCombie managed four gains as Tainui and Godsmark-White both added two more apiece.

Tune in for the second match tonight at 7:15pm NZDT (5:15pm AEDT).

NZ SILVER FERNS | 9 | 15 | 14 | 20 (58)
AOTEAROA MEN’S | 16 | 8 | 13 | 10 (47)

Match MVP: Karin Burger (NZ Silver Ferns)

STARTING SEVENS

Silver Ferns

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Maddy Gordon
WD: Claire Kersten
GD: Karin Burger
GK: Kelly Jury

Aotearoa Men’s

GS: Jay Geldard
GA: Daniel Jefferies
WA: Eriata Vercoe
C: Nick Grimmer
WD: Tyrah Lauagiagi
GD: Jaryn Tainui
GK: Victor Godsmark-White

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