Silver Ferns 59
New Zealand A 44
New Zealand netball fans can rest assured the future is bright.
In their first match since January, the Silver Ferns have defeated New Zealand A 59-44 in Palmerston North.
But the game, nicknamed the probables versus the possibles, was far from one-sided, despite what the scoreline suggests.
Widely labelled a Silver Ferns trial ahead of next week's Taini Jamison Trophy series against England, the NZA players, specifically, were eager to make a statement.
The match was goal-for-goal in the first quarter, with the Ferns just managing to steal a one-goal lead in the last minute.
Mystics shooter Grace Nweke was then thrust into her first game for the Silver Ferns, playing alongside captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio. The 18-year-old settled under the hoop netting 22 of 28 attempts, despite the tough defensive efforts of Erena Mikaere and Kate Burley.
The game swung in the direction of the Ferns towards halftime and into the third quarter as head coach Dame Noeline Taurua and NZA coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek worked their way through players with regular rotation from the bench.
NZA briefly took control before a number of missed shots and turnovers cost them a chance to close the gap. As a result, the Ferns took a comfortable nine-goal lead into the final quarter, where fitness levels seemed the sticking point.
Taurua mentioned before the game how the Ferns had produced their best aerobic results in 10 years and even after a domestic season playing 12-minute quarters, they had no trouble maintaining the pressure over 15-minute periods, ultimately securing them the win.
Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio praised the level of intensity from NZA.
"We've all been training together almost the entire time so we all know what's been going on and sometimes it felt like we were just out there on the training court," she said.
"We've brought every single person along with us and you can see the skill levels definitely improved so it's a win-win for netball.
"Noeline is doing an incredible job and we're just holding and continuing to move forward and lift where we can."
Earlier, the NZ Men's picked up where they left off from last year's series with a dominant 73-44 win over the NZ U21s.
NZ Men's captain Kruze Tangira, who made 34 circle feeds and 22 goal assists, said it was a tough match physically.
"The girls were fantastic, so much talent, and like we said in our huddle, the future looks bright for Netball New Zealand," he told Sky Sport after the game.
"The exposure that male netballers get from this Cadbury Series is fantastic and for the growth of men's netball in New Zealand."
The Silver Ferns play the NZ Men tomorrow night at 8pm.