Netball: Ferns look forward to Aussie challenge

By David Leggat

Irene van Dyk of the Silver Ferns. Photo / Getty Images
Irene van Dyk of the Silver Ferns. Photo / Getty Images

Silver Ferns 59
Jamaica 43

It's no surprise there will be another transtasman showdown for the Commonwealth Games netball title tomorrow night.

New Zealand made sure they would be defending their title won in Melbourne four years ago with a convincing 59-43 win over Jamaica, while Australia had a tougher battle before overcoming a gallant England 51-45.

"For both teams it's the pinnacle, it's what we came for and worked so hard for," New Zealand coach Ruth Aitken said.

Captain and goal defender Casey Williams relishes the size of the challenge but testing themselves against the best is what it is all about for the Silver Ferns.

"You never get sick of that challenge," she said. "It's just the excitement, the intensity on court.

Also the girls are so competitive and we're here to do a job."

Jamaica were right in it early on in an even-stevens first quarter, which ended 17-all and displayed the teams' contrasting styles.

Jamaica's freewheeling passing can be unorthodox, but the route one long, looping pass to goal shoot Romelda Aiken was highly effective.

With her telescopic arms, Aiken was a handful for defenders Williams and Anna Scarlett, who was gone at quarter time in favour of Leana de Bruin, but Aiken lost her radar in the second half, which hurt Jamaica's chances.

New Zealand's approach is more direct, more orthodox and by halftime, with a seven-point cushion established -- capitalising on Jamaican mistakes -- had the game under control.

At one point, the Silver Ferns stretched the lead to 10 but things were getting tasty at New Zealand's defensive end as Williams and de Bruin mixing it with Aiken who, frustrated, hurled the ball at Williams at one point.

With one quarter left, the game was New Zealand's to lose and they weren't about to loosen their grip. Jamaica's shooting percentage had dropped to 78 but Irene van Dyk finished with a 100 per cent record from 32 attempts and goal attack Maria Tutaia, had her long range goggles working.

Australia had to work for their place in the final, eventually easing out in the final quarter against England.

- NZ Herald

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