NZ Men v Mixed Invitational
The opening game of the 2022 Cadbury series got underway at a frantic pace. The NZ Men’s team had a dominant start, with no issue finding goal shooter Jay Geldard, though Stefan Swartz was able to gain two huge interceptions for the Mixed Invitational team. In the mid-court, the match-up between Maddy Gordon and Kruze Tangira was a tight battle, with Gordon hitting the deck many times throughout the game. The aerial game of the Mens’ team proved difficult to beat however, with the NZ Men going into the quarter-time break 14-8.
In the second quarter, the Invitational Mixed team were quick to close the gap. Through crafty and clever play by Grace Namana, they were able to slowly claw back the deficit. The Men’s team had some difficulty feeding the circle with a few passes going astray. Wayward passes were not only present in the men’s team but also in the mixed team allowing the Men’s team to pull away on the scoreboard. Neither team was able to effectively capitalize on their turnovers. The Men could further extend their lead going into the main break leading 28-18.
Dominating the opening five minutes of the third term, the Mixed team were able to close the gap again on the Men’s team. There were many swings in momentum throughout the game with the Mixed team starting the quarters well and the Men’s team closing out the quarters even better. Nick Grimmer used his speed through the middle of the court to accurately feed the shooters. During the middle of the quarter, there was a chaotic period of play in which we saw four turnovers in thirty seconds which resulted in a goal for the mixed team. At three-quarter time the Men’s team led by 11, 36-25.
The mid-court pairing of Deepak Patu and Maddy Gordon injected speed into the game but this was not enough to overcome the height and strength of the Men. Kyle Owen fed doubt into the minds of the feeders to create opportunities for the mixed team. Winning the final quarter, the Mixed team were able to slightly narrow the margin to eight goals.
The NZ Men defeated the Mixed Invitational team 47-39.
Matt Wetere was named Player of the Match.
Silver Ferns v NZA
It was the world’s first look at the newly selected Silver Ferns team in their preparation for the Commonwealth games. The Silver Ferns were able to get out to a two-goal lead but they did not have it their own way at all. Ameliaranne Ekenasio was able to use her movement and long accurate range shooting ability to keep the defensive pairing of Kelly Jury and Sulu Fitzpatrick on their toes. Down the other end of the court, Maia Wilson showed her crafty baseline drives and use of movement out of the circle to open up space. Whitney Souness was able to get two impressive defensive gains. The Silver Ferns led going into quarter time, 18-13.
The Silver Ferns changed their line-up heading into the second quarter, injecting Phoenix Karaka, Kayla Johnson, Shannon Saunders, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Grace Nweke onto the court. NZA showcased their ball pace and placement with their triangle plays to feed into the shooters. In centre, Kate Heffernan showed patience when feeding and was able to find Grace Nweke with ease and accuracy. After settling her nerves Grace Nweke was able to begin shooting with the confidence we are all so used to seeing from her, which aided in allowing the Silver Ferns to lead at halftime 30-27.
Coming out of the main break the Silver Ferns pulled away from the NZA team. The Silver Ferns were able to extend their lead out to ten goals through massive defensive gains and capitalizing on the errors of NZA. Kelly Jury and Sulu Fitzpatrick used their building combination and awareness of the shooter’s tactics to pick up gains that were able to be converted on the scoreboard by the shooters. The NZA team were not able to pick up enough ball to stay with the Silver Ferns. Able to use their quick transition down the court, the Silver Ferns went into the three-quarter break leading by twelve, 52-40.
The final quarter was played with patience as the Ferns continued to push out their lead. The Silver Ferns were able to capitalise on the mistakes of the NZA team and converted their gains into goals. Although both teams had errors throughout the game, it was the Silver Ferns that were able to make use of their possessions. Whitney Souness showed her craft at centre being able to feed with accuracy but also gain ball on defence. During the final quarter, the Silver Ferns were able to keep NZA scoreless for a period of over five minutes.
The Silver Ferns proved too strong for the NZA team, winning 67-48.
The Player of the Match was awarded to Whitney Souness.