NZ Men defeat Silver Ferns to win Cadbury Netball Series
The NZ Men delivered in all areas to claim their first Cadbury Netball Series since 2019 with a commanding 67-48 victory at Pulman Arena in Auckland on Sunday.
Having gotten the better of the Ferns by 16 goals on Thursday, the Men produced a lesson in netball in the opening 30 minutes of play to put the game beyond doubt and claim the series title after an entertaining four days of play.
If the Silver Ferns were after the ultimate test in their last outing before boarding the plane to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, they got it.
The Men used all of their skill with speed, strength, and accuracy to lead from start to finish in a dominant display, although the Silver Ferns will take some positives from an improved second half performance while under the pump.
Coach Dion Te Whetu was able to empty his bench in the fourth quarter, rewarding his players for consistent play throughout the series.
The Silver Ferns went into the match with the same seven who had started strongly against the Mixed Invitational side on Friday, with Grace Nweke earning her first start against the Men.
The Men’s team were forced to make changes to their side with playmaking goal attack Cam Powell ruled out of the match, with Ben Smith picking up the bib in his place to team up with high volume shooter Jay Geldard.
Influential captain Kruze Tangira and centre Nick Grimmer forced all sorts of defensive pressure around the Ferns circle as the Men went on a six-goal spree early in the game top open a 7-2 advantage.
On attack, Grimmer provided quality ball into Smith and Geldard as the Men maintained the edge on both attack and defence.
Silver Ferns Maia Wilson continued to showcase her skills at goal attack – her court play and long-range shooting accuracy again impressing.
But at the other end of the court they struggled to shut down another imposing shooter with Geldard an easy target for the Men.
With an ability to release long clearing ball up court, the Men were able to score quickly, and it prompted a change in the Ferns line-up with Phoenix Karaka replacing Sulu Fitzpatrick at goal defence with a little over two minutes left in the spell.
The Men showed no signs of letting up as they ended the first quarter with a commanding 18-10 lead and kept their foot on the gas in the second stanza to open an 11-goal buffer.
Dan Rich and Matt Wetere were relentless with their pressure on defence, their seamless switches in the circle confusing the Silver Ferns’ feeders – the duo keeping shooter Grace Nweke under wraps for much of the first half.
At the other end of the court, Geldard gave a huge fist pump as he landed a long-range shot at goal to round out an outstanding 30 minutes, the Men going into the halftime break with a 40-21 lead.
Ill-discipline with breaking calls, footwork and poor passing stymied the Silver Ferns chances particularly when they gained any crumbs they could from the Men.
Going goal-for-goal in the third spell, both teams went to the bench at the midway mark with the Ferns looking to find something different on defence with Fitzpatrick and Kate Heffernan returning to the court at goal keeper and wing defence respectively, while Geldard made way for Dan Jefferies.
The grind on attack continued for the Silver Ferns, but they did a better job of finding their shooters, in particular Nweke, to stay within touch of the Men in the quarter – going down by just two goals in the stanza to trail 34-55 at the last turn.