This article has been amended to correct an earlier error.
If there were two words that could sum up the Silver Ferns' Netball World Cup squad in their opening match of the Cadbury Series last night, they would be fit and fierce.
It was a refreshing look for the side head coach Noeline Taurua once deemed not up to scratch to match the pace of some of the world's best.
But with the Netball World Cup just over two weeks away, it couldn't have been a better time for things to come together for the national side.
Decisively taking down the New Zealand All Stars 61-45 in their opening game of the series at Pulman Arena in Takanini, the Ferns were in control from start to finish.
It was a game of defence in the early stages as it quickly became less about shooting accuracy — with both sides putting up stellar accuracy statistics — and more so about getting the ball into the circle.
All Stars defender Sulu Fitzpatrick was all over Maria Folau in and around the shooting circle, forcing the Silver Ferns sharpshooter to rely heavily on her long-range shooting skills.
It was a similar story on the other end of the court, with All Star shooters Maia Wilson and Aliyah Dunn often struggling to get free from the tenacious Jane Watson and veteran Casey Kopua.
Dunn's height came in handy, however, with the youngster snagging plenty of high ball from midcourter Claire Kersten.
As the second half tipped off, Bailey Mes made her awaited return to the black dress while Folau surprisingly took a seat on the bench.
The Mystics shooter had plenty to prove after spending more than a year outside of the international scene, last appearing for the national side at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
But taking on the challenge seemingly unfazed, Mes held steady under the hoop netting 19/20 at 95% even forcing All Stars coach Yvette McCausland-Durie to making positional changes.
Erena Mikaere was called up to goal keep in an attempt to shut down ball in the Ferns shooting circle but as the All Stars' momentum started to fade so did their chances.
The Ferns play the New Zealand Men's Invitational team tonight at 8 o'clock in Takanini.
In the article on the Silver Ferns' first match in the Cadbury Netball Series against the New Zealand All Stars, published on Wednesday, the headline and lead paragraph incorrectly stated that Silver Ferns veteran Maria Folau's performance was below par and that she was substituted at halftime for this reason. Folau, in fact, had achieved a shooting accuracy of 87.5 per cent in the match and was replaced by Bailey Mes for the third quarter as part of the Ferns' rotation policy ahead of the upcoming Netball World Cup. The error occurred in the sub-editing process. The Herald regrets and apologises for the error.