The Silver Ferns have thrashed the Fiji Pearls 88-30 to set up a clash against the NZ Men's team in the final of the Cadbury Netball Series tomorrow.
Recap of Silver Ferns v NZ Men's team:
With everything to prove and nothing to lose, the New Zealand Invitational Men's side made a statement tonight in their first broadcasted game against the Silver Ferns.
The men claimed a 54-50 win over the Ferns at Auckland's Pulman Arena, using their height and aerial skills to full advantage in a performance that will put them in hot contention of taking out the Cadbury Netball Series.
The New Zealand Men followed through with their promise of being one of the Silver Ferns' toughest opposition to date, putting up a hard-fought physical battle.
New Zealand Men's goal shoot Junior Levi towered over Silver Ferns defenders Phoenix Karaka and Jane Watson – prompting the pair to attempt all sorts of defensive tactics.
Meanwhile, the Silver Ferns shooters had their long-range shooting skills put to the ultimate test under the pressure of New Zealand Men's defenders Daniel Rich and Matt Wetere.
Boasting a ten-centimetre advantage over Ferns shooter Maria Folau, Rich looked determined to use his height and ranging arms to their full extent.
Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio were caught struggling at times, specifically throughout the second quarter as they attempted to combat the men's tactics.
It took a few positional changes in the second half from head coach Noeline Taurua to see the Silver Ferns fight back in a strong third quarter performance.
Bailey Mes was handed the goal shoot bib as she continued her impressive return to the black dress while Folau took a seat on the bench.
Putting up 12/14 at 86%, Mes held her space under the post and found a good connection with Ekenasio on the circle edge.
Veteran Casey Kopua led the defence unit from the front but the men held strong as their earlier buffer proved too much for the Ferns to make back.
In a final quarter effort, the Ferns got as close as one goal away from levelling the match but responding with three unanswered goals, the men didn't give in.
As the clock ticked down, a win for the Ferns slowly slipped out of reach and it was the men who came out victorious much to the delight of a passionate Pulman Arena crowd.
The New Zealand Men now sit top of the table with two wins from two games and look set to feature in the grand final on Saturday afternoon.
The men will face the New Zealand All Stars tomorrow at 6 pm while the Silver Ferns will play the Fiji Pearls at 8 pm.