Silver Ferns 75
The Silver Ferns opened the Taini Jamison Trophy Series with a strong performance to defeat Malawi, 75-42.
Unlike their performances during the Northern Netball Quad Series earlier this year, the Silver Ferns played with feisty defence and attacked accurately, and Malawi struggled to match.
The scoreboard reflected a very different game than what we last saw of Malawi, having only gone down 57-49 when they last took on the Ferns at the 2015 Netball World Cup.
Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit's fast feet, tactical screens and accurate shooting helped lead the Ferns to a 12-point lead at the conclusion of the first quarter, and with the assistance of loud midcourter Samantha Sinclair, the Silver Ferns' precise communication on court helped validate the recent improvements made.
New Zealand then furthered their opening quarter lead, continuing to extend the gap to lead 36-17 at halftime. Despite earlier injury complaints from shooters Maria Folau (nee Tutaia) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, the pair were promptly back on court together, and combined well in the latter periods.
The fourth quarter also saw the highly-anticipated debut of newcomer Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, who took to the court to become Silver Fern #169. After a nudge of support from Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant, Sokolich-Beatson played her first quarter as a Fern at goal defence.
Tonight's much needed victory was claimed despite the absence of defenders Kayla Cullen and Temalisi Fakahokotau, who were both ruled out due to injury. Fakahokotau sprained her ankle during training this week, but Silver Ferns management confirmed she should be back on court for the remainder of the series.
The Silver Ferns will face Jamaica, who beat Fiji 83-38, tomorrow night for their second match of the series.
The round-robin four-team competition will continue for the next three nights at North Shore Events Centre, with the final taking place at 4pm on Saturday.
The series will conclude just 12 days before the Silver Ferns' Commonwealth Games opening match against Uganda on the Gold Coast.
Silver Ferns 75 (Selby-Rickit 36/44, Folau 15/17, Ekenasio 12/15, Mes 12/18)
Malawi 42 (Kumwenda 36/44, Chimaliro 3/4, Simtowe 3/5)