It's rare that a team other than the Silver Ferns come out as favourites in a New Zealand-hosted international netball competition.

But with another dominant win to finish off their clean sweep of this week's Cadbury Netball Series, the New Zealand Men's Invitational team stole the spotlight in tonight's grand final at Auckland's Pulman Arena.

With a 66-54 victory over the Silver Ferns, the men once again played to their strengths overshadowing the women's side with physical, fast and aerial play.

But it wasn't all bad news for the Ferns, however, who welcomed the challenge ahead of the Netball World Cup.


The grand final again showcased exactly why head coach Noeline Taurua rallied for the two sides to meet in a broadcasted series with the Silver Ferns looking sharper than ever ahead of the pinnacle international event.

Silver Ferns veteran shooter Maria Folau was in unstoppable form netting 40/42 goals at 93 per cent in a full 60-minute performance, while defenders Jane Watson and Casey Kopua put their skills on display against the towering 2.14cm 'man mountain' Junior Levi.

And despite a weaker second half, where the men surged ahead, the Silver Ferns showcased passion and fight until the final whistle.

"There are some promising signs," Taurua said. "I thought the intent was amazing, they were positive and we just kept going and grinding.

"It's a massive preparation for us leading into the Worlds. It's what we needed.

"I'm starting to settle on where combinations are and how individuals compliment each other ... I'm really clear now about where we are individually and as a team."

NZ Men's Junior Levi defending against Silver Fern Jane Watson. Photo / Photosport
NZ Men's Junior Levi defending against Silver Fern Jane Watson. Photo / Photosport

The men opened up the first quarter with much of the same fast play as they did on Thursday, taking a slim but helpful five-goal lead.

The Ferns came out firing, however, in the second stanza with Folau leading the attacking unit from the front.


Combatting the defence tactics of New Zealand Men's goal keep Matt Wetere with far more ease, Folau looked composed and steady shooting from anywhere in the circle.

As the third quarter began, the men stormed ahead again with a strong momentum that Kopua and Watson struggled to shut down.

Taurua looked to her bench for answers giving defender Phoenix Karaka, shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit, and midcourter Michaela Sokolich-Beatson the nod.

The positional changes were slow to take effect as the men carried a lead of seven into the final 15 minutes thanks to the fresh legs of Joseph Tukaki and Victor Godsmark-White, but as things settled again on court, the Silver Ferns made sure to make their male counterparts work.

Ferns captain Laura Langman, a work-horse in the midcourt, led her side from the front prompting turnovers and finding smooth connections with her shooters.

But it turned out to be too little too late for the Ferns as the men eased their way to an 11-goal victory to take out the series and top what has been a historic week for the side.

Earlier in the afternoon, the All Stars took third place with a 103-29 win over the Fiji Pearls.

The Silver Ferns will depart for Liverpool later this week before their first Netball World Cup match against Malawi on July 12.

Cadbury Netball Series final as it happened: