Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Netball: Silver Ferns grind past Jamaica

Laura Langman. Photo / Getty Images.
Laura Langman. Photo / Getty Images.

Silver Ferns 52
Jamaica 46

This was a win over a tough rival - but it was a far from convincing display from the Silver Ferns on their northern tour.

The final 52-46 margin probably flattered the New Zealand side as the young Jamaican side were extremely competitive throughout, while the Ferns came up with a fractured display.

After two one sided exhibition matches against Scotland earlier on this tour, the Ferns struggled to impose themselves on the Sunshine Girls.

The Ferns had periods of dominance but were engaged in a dog fight for most of the match, only pulling away in the final minutes of the last quarter.

Like she has done in the earlier matches on tour, Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu continued her rotation policy, replacing Irene van Dyk, Maria Tutaia and Camilla Lees at half-time with Catherine Latu, Jodi Brown and Shannon Francois.

Jamaica were missing Romelda Aiken - rated as one of the best attacking players in the sport - but Jhanielle Fowler was a constant threat throughout the match.

Fowler, who was the ANZ Championship MVP last season as she took the Southern Steel to the brink of the playoffs, was almost unstoppable at times, reeling in passes from all areas of the attacking third.

Leana de Bruin and Katrina Grant were diligent in their work, and had some moments of joy against Fowler but the beanpole goal shooter is becoming one of the hardest players to combat in the sport.

Much of the match followed a similar pattern. The Ferns would string together passages of good play before letting Jamaica back into the match, meaning they could never establish a lead and take the game away from the Caribbean team.

The Ferns led 14-9 after the first quarter but struggled in the next period, only winning the second quarter by one goal. The margin was six goals (38-32) at the third break, as Latu in particular made a impact in the shooting circle. Midway through the final quarter Jamaica closed to within three goals of the New Zealand side (43-40) and an unlikely upset was on the cards, before the Ferns pulled away to seal the match.

The Ferns next match is against England on Tuesday.

New Zealand 52
Jamaica 46
By quarters: 14-9, 24-18, 38-32, 52-46

- Herald on Sunday

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