Silver Ferns trounce Bajan Gems
SYDNEY –– New Zealand opened their Netball World Cup 2015 campaign with a dominant display in Sydney running out 73-28 winners against Barbados last night.
Six players made their Netball World Cup debut for the Silver Ferns, including Grace Rasmussen who earned her midcourt spot with her quick feet and agility carrying the ball through to the circle.
Bailey Mes helped the Silver Ferns to a flying start in the first quarter, dominating the attacking end in her first World Cup appearance.
While Barbados had to deal with experienced campaigners Kopua and Katrina Grant in defence, goal shooter Shannon Wharton –– one of the youngest in this year’s competition at 19 years –– was impressive in her debut game. With a strong unit across the court, the Ferns took a 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
No changes were made at the first break with Barbados starting the second quarter with added intensity. The Silver Ferns again proved too strong with goal attack Maria Tutaia proving unstoppable under the post. With unforced errors creeping into Barbados’ game, New Zealand took a 36-13 lead into half-time.
New Zealand coach, Waimarama Taumaunu made wholesale changes at half time including the injection of veteran Leana de Bruin. Taking the court, de Bruin joined an illustrious group of athletes to play in five World Cups. The Ferns also brought Malia Paseka into the match for her World Cup debut, taking over as shooter from Mes.
Wharton continued her strong shooting game for Barbados with a 100 per cent success rate before a collision in the goal circle meant she was replaced by Nikita Piggott. New Zealand took a comfortable 53-25 lead into the final change.
The final quarter saw Paseka insert herself into the game, dominating the circle, and helping New Zealand run out 73-28 victors. Wharton had 14 goals from 16 attempts; Piggott had six from six; Faye Sealy netted four goals from five attempts and Sheniqua Thomas had four from six attempts. For New Zealand Paseka had 28 goals from 38 attempts; Mes netted 24 goals from 31 attempts and Maria Rutala had 12 goals from 15 attempts.
Tomorrow Barbados will clash with Australia in front of a parochial crowd at Allphones Arena on Day 2.This match will be only the fourth Netball World Cup meet between the two countries, with Barbardos yet to defeat Australia in their three previous Netball World Cup meetings.
Head to head, Australia have won all of the ten previous meetings with Barbados, and will be looking to add another win to their tally. The Australian Netball Diamonds were slow to start in their first opening match against Trinidad & Tobago, with a number of unforced turnovers early but they settled quickly with Sharni Layton making her presence felt in defence, picking up four intercepts and six deflections while 22-year old Kim Ravillion finished with an almost faultless performance in centre. With the entire squad hitting the court in the opener and fierce competition for positions, Australia will be tough to beat in this tournament.
For the ninth-ranked Barbados, this will be yet another opportunity to test themselves against the World’s top nations after taking on New Zealand on Day One. Barbados will be hoping Wharton will be available for the match after she left the court with an ankle injury in the third quarter. Wharton was the focal point for the Gems’ shooting circle and they struggled to find a clean passage to goal in her absence.