24 Jul 2015

Coaches pleased with Silver Ferns progress

3:15 pm on 24 July 2015

The Silver Ferns coaching staff are encouraged by the performance of their new shooters as they started their final World Championship preparations with an emphatic 91-31 win over Fiji in Porirua.

Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes competes
for the ball with Fiji's Matila Waqanidrola.

Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes competes for the ball with Fiji's Matila Waqanidrola. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The new-look Silver Ferns side appeared to have few problems, with Bailey Mes starting at goal shoot, while Malia Paseka made her debut off the bench.

Assistant coach Vicky Wilson was very happy with the pair.

"Both of them are excellent rebounders and in particular I like the way the get into a good rebounding position but anything in the air we know that we have a chance and I think that's something really important heading into the World Champs," Wilson said.

The Silver Ferns were quickly out of the blocks, the athleticism of Mes adding to a mobile and fluent circle as the home side delivered a slick and steady service.

Back where she made her international debut five years ago, wing attack Grace Rasmussen revelled in the conditions, space and timing giving her the upper hand on attack.

At the other end, a strong and lively Casey Kopua showed her joy at being back playing at international level for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury nine months ago.

Silver Ferns defenders Katrina Grant and Casey Kopua in action against Fiji 2015.

Silver Ferns defenders Katrina Grant and Casey Kopua in action against Fiji 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Silver Ferns captain was a dominant figure alongside Katrina Grant as the defensive pair stalled Fiji's momentum through the midcourt, the home team powering out to a 22-3 lead at the first break.

Fiji showed better patience and timing on the resumption, the impact of Afa Rusivakula at goal attack helping the visitors lift their efforts while Maria Lutua added thrust from wing attack.

Mes continued to shine at goal shoot, impressing with her variety and retrieving abilities while also improving her shooting percentages. Langman showed her strong defensive qualities with a strong all-round showing as the Silver Ferns headed to the main break with a 43-12 lead.

Langman resumed her more customary position of centre for the second half while Jodi Brown replaced Maria Tutaia at goal attack and Kayla Cullen picked up the wing defence bib.

There were encouraging signs from all three when the changes made little difference to the all-round performance of the Silver Ferns. Brown, the playmaker, ran the attack line with her renowned efficiency and Langman drove strongly though the midcourt alongside the athletic Cullen.

With the Silver Ferns continuing to improve their shooting returns, Fiji also had more reward during the third stanza, the home team taking a 70-21 lead into the last break.

Malia Paseka became the 158th Silver Fern when coming on in the last quarter, continuing her strong form of the ANZ Championship season with an impressive debut. Defender Phoenix Karaka also came on for the final 15 minutes, the Silver Ferns not missing a beat with their consistency of performance and smooth finishing.

The Silver Ferns continue their build to the World Cup with the first of a two-Test Series against South Africa starting in Hamilton on Sunday, and finishing with the final Test at Auckland's Trusts Arena on Tuesday.

MVP: Katrina Grant (Silver Ferns)

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores

Silver Ferns: Q1: 22 - Q2: 43 (21) - Q3: 70 (27) - Q4: 91 (21)

Fiji Pearls: Q1: 3 - Q2: 12 (9) - Q3: 21 (9) - Q4: 31 (10)

Shooting Statistics

SILVER FERNS: 91/112 (81%)

Bailey Mes: 48/57 (84%)

Maria Tutaia: 14/20 (70%)

Jodi Brown: 15/18 (83%)

Malia Paseka: 14/17 (82%)

FIJI PEARLS: 31/42 (74%)

Taraima Mitchell: 12/17 (71%)

Maria Lutua: 5/6 (83%)

Afa Rusivakula: 14/19 (74%)

Starting line-ups

SILVER FERNS: GS Bailey Mes, GA Maria Tutaia, WA Grace Rasmussen, C Shannon Francois, WD Laura Langman, GD Katrina Grant, GK Casey Kopua

FIJI PEARLS: GS Taraima Mitchell, GA Maria Lutua, WA Nina Cirikisuva, C Alesi Waqa, WD Sera Dakuitoga, GD Matila Waqandidrola, GK Mere Neiliko

Positional Changes

SILVER FERNS:

Q3: GA Jodi Brown, C Laura Langman, WD Kayla Cullen

Q4: GK Karaka, GS Paseka

FIJI PEARLS:

Q2: WA Maria Lutua, GA Unouna Afa Rusivakula, GK Episake Gaunavinaka Kahatoka

Q3: WD Jane Dikini Costello

Q4: GK Mere Rabuka Neiliko, WA Alesi Waqa, GA Maria Lutua, GD Alisi Naqiri, WD Matila Vitorina Waqanidrola, C Jane Dikini Costello, GS Unouna Afa Rusivakula.

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