NZ Silver Ferns/Aotearoa Men’s Cadbury Netball Series: Match 2 wrap
THE second Cadbury Netball Series matchup between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Aotearoa Men’s was hardly a repeat of the first, with a hard fought battle proving that neither side would back down from a fight. However, the Ferns came away with a one-goal victory (59-58), proving too composed once more as they claimed the series victory in the process.
It took another jumbled and shaky start for the two teams to get going, with forced errors across the court paying off. Starting with the same shooting lineup as they finished with during the first match, the Ferns’ combination of Maia Wilson and Grace Nweke was hard to top early with the former taking charge and the latter positioning well under the post. The Ferns raced away with a strong start off the back of too much attention from Jaryn Tainui and Victor Godsmark-White on Nweke, allowing Wilson to find her feet, while the quick hands from Gina Crampton and hot start from Maddy Gordon paid of in dividends. At the other end, movement was somewhat stagnant for the Men’s who wasted opportunities trying to force the ball into the goal circle, with Jay Geldard holding nicely but Dan Jefferies somewhat missing in action and Josh Eriata Vercoe held well once more by Claire Kersten. Defensively, the Ferns did a fine job of limiting the Men’s movement in attack, turning the ball over off the back of Gordon’s relentlessness and wasted opportunities, leading by four goals at the first change.
The change was made in wing attack heading into the second quarter, with Junior Tana taking the court and using his leadership to bring Jefferies into the game. With that, the second phase of the Men’s attack starting connecting much better with greater composure and smarts, while Tyrah Lauagiagi wreaked havoc, disrupting Crampton’s playmaking with her dynamic movement to get around the body and bat the ball away. The Ferns attack continued to chip away though, with Nweke’s rebounding doing plenty of favours as Godsmark-White came close to first hands to ball on multiple occasions, but drew contacts instead with his split-second timing. The Men’s full-court pressure switched on as they propelled the ball down court with speed, with the quickfire passing and long bombs making it tough for the Ferns to anticipate the ball carrier and Tana worked in overdrive to not only bring Jefferies into the game, but also craft smart feeds over the strong defence of Karin Burger and Kelly Jury. A dominant quarter from the Men’s saw them take a one-goal lead into the second half.
A high-scoring third term proved neither side would back down from the tight contest, making winning changes as Tiana Metuarau entered the court in goal attack alongside Shannon Saunders and Dallas Harema brought a different style to wing defence in place of Lauagiagi. Neither side could wreak havoc as the stakes continued to rise, with Metuarau having a sparkling start alongside Nweke and making it hard for Tainui to anticipate her movement, while the Ferns lacked the error-rate off the Men’s hands that had gifted them easy goals early in the clash. The battle between Jefferies and Burger was fascinating with relentless pressure and strong hands coming to the fore, and tight midcourt matchups – particularly Gordon and Nick Grimmer – proving to be the kicker as misses came off the hands of the Ferns. Despite trailing by one heading into the quarter, the Ferns edged one goal ahead to retain control heading into the final term, with both teams looking on a mission to compete the full 60 minutes.
Where the Men’s team lost their intensity in the final term of the first clash, history would not repeat itself a second time as they started hard and did not stop throughout a thrilling final quarter of action. With a semblance of fatigue beginning to set in, both Jury and Godsmark-White showcased their form with well-timed intercepts, as the relentlessness of Gordon and Burger made life hard for the Men’s. The Ferns were only just keeping their nose in front with the scores effectively goal for goal for majority of the final term. With a minute remaining on the clock the scores were tied at 58-apiece with overtime seeming imminent, before a Metuarau goal put the Ferns one up with 40 seconds on the clock. But high pressure on the Men’s next centre pass proved to be the kicker, as the Ferns forced a centre pass error and whittled down the clock to claim the match 59-58, and overall series 2-0.
Despite the Ferns claiming the win, Men’s goal shooter Geldard claimed player of the match honours for his 100 per cent shooting effort, putting up 44 goals as Jefferies assisted well to finish with 14 goals from 17 attempts and 27 goal assists. Tana registered 14 assists, though it was his work off the ball and in tandem with Jefferies that really made the difference, while Lauagiagi produced an intercept and a pickup throughout her 36 minutes of game time. Godsmark-White came away with three gains (two intercepts) in the final quarter alone, proving just what he is capable of when the ball is slowed enough in transition to anticipate ball placement. For the Ferns, Nweke put up a solid 30 goals at 83 per cent, while Metuarau was impressive with 17 goals from 21 attempts in her 30 minutes on court, and Wilson put up 12 from 16. Saunders (17 goal assists) and Crampton (12) shared the feeding load well as Gordon put on a midcourt masterclass with her hunt and transitional play. A quieter night from Burger and Jury was by no means less impactful, with Burger managing four gains (two intercepts, four deflections) and Jury creating three gains (two intercepts, six deflections) while Kersten also finished with two gains and two pickups for a solid effort.
Tune in for the third and final match tonight at 7:15pm NZDT (5:15pm AEDT).
NZ SILVER FERNS | 17 | 11 | 18 | 13 (59)
AOTEAROA MEN’S | 13 | 16 | 16 | 13 (58)
Match MVP: Jay Geldard (Aotearoa Men’s)
GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Maia Wilson
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Maddy Gordon
WD: Claire Kersten
GD: Karin Burger
GK: Kelly Jury
GS: Jay Geldard
GA: Daniel Jefferies
WA: Eriata Vercoe
C: Nick Grimmer
WD: Tyrah Lauagiagi
GD: Jaryn Tainui
GK: Victor Godsmark-White