Commonwealth Games: Silver Ferns secure top spot

By David Leggat

New Zealand Silver Fern Jodi Brown. Photo / Greg Bowker
New Zealand Silver Fern Jodi Brown. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand secured top spot in their group with a hugely encouraging 50-42 win over Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games last night.

The significance of the result of their final pool game is they will avoid world No 1 Australia until the final - that's if they get past England in their semifinal on Saturday.

It was a fine victory, the Silver Ferns finishing strongly in the final quarter, which they won 15-9, made more satisfying by the fact they were shorn through injury of their best two shooters, Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia.

It was touch and go through the first three quarters, however Jamaica became ragged late on and, sensing their chance the Silver Ferns kept their heads for a victory which will give them immense satisfaction.

Stand-in shooters Jodi Brown and Ellen Halpenny had to work hard against the Jamaican defence but with the defenders making life awkward down the other end for Jamaica's Southern Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, New Zealand had their noses in front 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Among the keys to the win was the job defensive duo of captain Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin on Fowler-Reid, who prefers to shoot from close range. New Zealand had success by forcing her further out.

Jamaica didn't mess about at quarter time, swapping both defenders at the first break, bringing on the tall Romelda Aiken and former Tactix defender Casey Evering.

Aiken, with her long reach immediately caused problems, particularly for Halpenny, as Jamaica went ahead for the first time at 21-20, and they held the advantage 24-23 at halftime.

Fowler-Reid, after missing her second shot, got into her work and was becoming a near unstoppable force for a time.

Jamaica were encouraged by the presence of Usain Bolt, who arrived shortly after the start. He was the centre of attention in the arena, particularly at halftime when the photographers had a field day.

The Silver Ferns swapped Brown and Halpenny's roles at three-quarter time and although Halpenny looked jittery at times, New Zealand were up 35-33 going into the last 15 minutes.

The Silver Ferns shot at 72 percent success rate to Jamaica's 89. Brown nailed 31 of 40 shots, Halpenny only 16 of 29, while Fowler-Reid missed just four shots of 39.

Earlier Australia confirmed top spot in their group with a 64-40 win over South Africa.

- NZ Herald

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