Netball: NZ outplay Malawi's patience

By Cathy Walshe

New Zealand 85 Malawi 26

Patience proved no virtue for Malawi in the opening game against New Zealand at the world netball championship here tonight, with the defending champions running out 85-26 winners.

Starved of the ball for most of the match, and unable to find a way through the Silver Ferns' rugged through-court defence, Malawi were given no chance to play their favoured, possession-at-all-costs game which has seen them string together over 60 passes before sinking a goal.

New Zealand's feast of possession saw goal shoot Irene van Dyk shoot the perfect game, sinking 42 shots from 42 attempts before she was subbed off for the final 15 minutes.

The Silver Ferns led 23-5 at the end of the first quarter, the tone set by a Casey Williams intercept off Malawi's opening pass.

New Zealand notched up six goals before Malawi sunk their first goal, to rapturous applause from a supportive crowd.

Directed by some excellent straight-line play from Laura Langman at centre, and with van Dyk literally head and shoulders above Malawi goal keep Esther Nkhoma, New Zealand's pace and power passing proved too much for the Africans right from the first whistle.

Malawi were given no chance to play their favoured patient game, as the Silver Ferns starved them of all but the meanest sort of possession.

As always, van Dyk shouldered the majority of the shooting duties, sinking all of her 16 attempts on goal while Te Huna was a more circumspect seven from 10.

Malawi was restricted to just six shots on goal for the entire 15 minutes, missing only once.

By halftime, both teams had all but doubled their scores, with the Silver Ferns stretching out to a 35-goal advantage to lead 45-10 at the break.

While shooters van Dyk and Te Huna continued their dominance in the shooting circle, the possession coming their way was thanks to some stifling through-court defence.

Van Dyk again shot 100 per cent in the second quarter, shooting 14 out of 14, while Te Huna upped her success rate with eight from eight.

Coach Ruth Aitken rang the changes at halftime, bringing on Maria Tutaia for Te Huna at goal attack, Julie Seymour for Joline Henry at wing defence and Leana de Bruin for Williams at the back.

At the end of the third quarter, New Zealand led 63-19 and Aitken brought Te Huna back at goal shoot for the final spell, van Dyk earning a rare rest on the bench, and Maree Bowden took over the centre's bib from Langman.

While the match was an acceptably clinical performance from the Silver Ferns, Aitken still has plenty to work on, with the occasional lapse in concentration and miscommunication showing there is still room for improvement.

Teams:

New Zealand: Irene van Dyk, Jodi Te Huna, Adine Wilson, Laura Langman, Joline Henry, Sheryl Scanlan, Casey Williams.

Malawi: Linda Magombo, Mary Waya, Peace Chawinga, Sylvia Malenga, Esther Kayira, Caroline Mtukule, Esther Nkhoma.

- NZPA

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