23 Jan 2015

Ferns beat Fiji again

7:27 am on 23 January 2015

The Silver Ferns have completed the inaugural Oceania Netball series in Suva with a 76-34 win over Fiji.

Silver Fern netballer Laura Langman

Silver Fern netballer Laura Langman Photo: PHOTOSPORT

There was a delayed start to the match as a national power outage set the match back a half an hour.

Coach Waimarama Taumaunu opted for another new shooting combination in Ellen Halpenny at goal attack and Bailey Mes at shooter, while Phoenix Karaka was given her second start in the black dress, wearing the goal defence bib alongside Leana de Bruin who was celebrating her 90th test cap for New Zealand.

Camilla Lees impressed with her vision from wing attack threading the ball through to Mes with pinpoint accuracy while Laura Langman's presence at wing defence frustrated Fiji's frontline as she picked up a number of turnovers for the Ferns.

Halpenny slotted a penalty on the whistle to end the first quarter with a 21-10 advantage and a flicker from the lighting early in the second spell brought a cheer from the crowd and a few anxious looks on the benches.

Ferns veteran Jodi Brown stepped into the spotlight after the break as she replaced Halpenny to mark her 50th test for the Ferns.

The suffocating defensive pressure across the court from the Ferns forced Fiji into numerous errors as they dominated the scoreboard and restricted their opponents to just four goals in the first 10 minutes of the spell.

Karaka, who led the charge for intercepts during the match, continued to make the most of her opportunities on court hunting ball and forming an impenetrable defensive wall alongside Langman and centre Shannon Francois.

New Zealand's speed in transition from defence to attack also left Fiji flummoxed as the score blew out to 20-goals mid-way through the quarter.

Fiji finished the spell with a flourish however with vice-captain and goal attack Maria Lutua leading the way but the hosts still trailed 17-41 at halftime.

Mes was the only Fern to hold onto the same bib when play resumed with Maria Tutaia and Grace Rasmussen joining the forward line, Langman moving to centre and Kayla Cullen and Katrina Grant coming into the defensive unit.

The continuity throughout court impressed from the Ferns as they held on to a 61-26 lead with one quarter remaining.

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