Netball: Strong finish to UK Tour for Ferns

By Adam Cooper

Silver Fern, Irene Van Dyk. Photo / PHOTOSPORT
Silver Fern, Irene Van Dyk. Photo / PHOTOSPORT

The Silver Ferns have wrapped up their tour of Britain with a comprehensive 67-44 win over England `A' in an exhibition match at Crystal Palace in London this morning.

Coach Waimarama Taumaunu opted for youth over experience in the defensive starting line-up with Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit getting the nod alongside new test cap Phoenix Karaka.

On-court captain Katrina Grant was moved out to the wing defence position to link with Camilla Lees in the centre bib, Shannon Francois played in the midcourt attack and Maria Tutaia and Irene van Dyk headed up the shooting end

The Ferns were not altogether unfamiliar the England A side which included many of the England Fives who played in the Fast5 Netball World Series last year. England A coach Jess Thirlby started with a strong line-up including 1.87m tall shooter Rachel Dunn.

"I was really pleased with the energy and accuracy of our play in the match,'' Taumaunu said.

"Shannon Francois had a great game feeding Maria and Irene and I was very happy with the low error rate throughout the court.

"I thought it was a near faultless performance from the shooters.''

England A more than held their own in the opening quarter with just four goals separating the sides at the first break. As the Ferns found their rhythm, Francois impressed with her speed to the top of the circle enabling quick ball into Tutaia and van Dyk.

By halftime the lead stretched to 13 with Taumaunu opting to inject Laura Langman and Joline Henry into the midcourt resulting in an instant lift in intensity as the Ferns restricted England A to just eight goals in the third quarter while hitting the half-century mark thanks to some sublime shooting.

Tutaia recorded 23/28 and van Dyk netted the bulk of the Ferns goals with 44/48.

The final stanza was more competitive with England A matching almost goal for goal. Karaka and Selby-Rickit gelled well together and got a hand to the ball a number of times, an encouraging sign for the future with the young players impressing Taumaunu.

The Silver Ferns now prepare to head home in what has been a hugely successful tour, winning all five games including two test matches against Jamaica and England.

- APNZ

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