By Nathan Limm in Cape Town
The Silver Ferns have survived a scare from Uganda in Pool D to go two-from-two at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town.
New Zealand’s 54-44 victory came in the face of an intensely physical Ugandan outfit, with every goal hard-fought.
Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio said after the opening Trinidad & Tobago victory she wanted her side to stand up in contact, and that is exactly what was required from the first whistle.
Ugandan shooter Mary Cholhok proved a weapon next to the post, a clear match for Kelly Jury at 2.01 metres tall.
New Zealand were perhaps lucky to come away with a 13-11 lead after falling behind twice in the first 15 minutes.
Uganda took control with a 4-1 lead to start the second quarter, their small contingent of raucous supporters silencing the much larger black-clad New Zealand group.
Jury begun to show her class, taking a key intercept and making life difficult for the Ugandan attackers in the circle, and centre Kate Heffernan made a nuisance of herself on defence as the Silver Ferns started to strangle Uganda and take a 25-21 lead into halftime following a 12-10 second quarter effort.
The physicality continued to be a hallmark of the contest, with both Jury and Ugandan goal keep Stella Nanfuka racking up 11 penalties apiece by halftime.
Dame Noeline Taurua turned to experience in the third quarter, bringing Jane Watson into goal keep, Gina Crampton into wing attack, Te Paea Selby-Rickit into goal shoot and Ekenasio back into goal attack.
The reinforcements did little to slow Uganda. They were patient with the ball, working New Zealand’s zone defence around until an opening presented itself.
Watson’s energy in the circle provided a couple of deflections, helping the Silver Ferns surge late for a more comfortable six-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Jury got another stint in the midcourt in the final 15, with the tried and tested combination of Watson and Karin Burger in the defensive circle.
Maddy Gordon came into the centre bib for the first time in the game and contributed further to the Silver Ferns’ improved defensive showing.
New Zealand looked more comfortable in the fourth quarter - running out 16-12 victors, as Selby-Rickit finished with 17 goals from 19 attempts to follow Grace Nweke’s 15 from 16.
The Silver Ferns face Singapore in their final Pool D match on Sunday night.