The New Zealand Silver Ferns started their World Cup campaign a little shaky before blowing the cobwebs off to put away an emphatic win over the Malawi Queens.
Maria Folau opened the tournament’s goal scoring account less than 40 seconds into the start before consolidating a second goal within the opening minute. However, the Queens showed patience in their front end, working the ball around until a clean feed opened up.
The Queens ran with the Ferns for the next few minutes, applying intense defensive pressure, which was rewarded with turnovers and a 2-goal lead mid-way through the first.
Malawi shooters Joyce Mvula and Sindi Simtowe were solid on the shot, both shooting at 100% during the opening quarter.
The Ferns ground their way back in front thanks, mostly, to some impressive defensive efforts of Casey Kopua. The 105* game veteran started to play more on the body, shutting out the space which Simtowe had previously exploited. Kopua finished the term with one intercept, two gains and three deflections.
At the start of the second quarter the Ferns found their rhythm across the entire court. They held the Queens to no goals for the first four minutes while they went on a 6-goal scoring spree.
The changes to Malawi’s front line weren’t gelling during the second quarter. However, once Jane Chimaliro and Bridget Kumwenda were brought on 5-minutes into the quarter, the Queens found more space and were able to run goal-for-goal for the remainder of the term. However, the Silver Ferns still won the quarter 15-6.
During the third term Mvula found her range from distance. The confidence on the shots lifted the trust from her feeders who released the ball more freely.
Jane Watson, who was having a solid game, was benched for the last term with Kopua then moved back to keeper and Katrina Rore brought on at GD.
Speaking after the game, Watson was pleased with her combination with Kopua. “It was definitely rough in patches. Hopefully with time together it will build through the week and peak at the right time.”
The final term was the best from the Queens as they matched with the slick Silver Ferns right across the court. But it was too little too late as the Ferns closed out the game with a 19-goal win.
Speaking after the game, Malawi centre court player, Takondwa Lwazi, was feeling positive about their performance.
“Although we lost today to New Zealand, we haven’t lost hope that next time we can win.”
New Zealand coach, Noeline Taura, was pleased with her team’s performance.
“It was a good start. But there were areas where I thought we were a bit rusty. In saying that, giving credit to Malawi, they play so unorthodox and if we get caught chasing from one side to the other which at times I thought we did, then we get reactive.”
New Zealand Silver Ferns
GS Maria Folau
GA Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA Gina Crampton
C Laura Langman
WD Karin Burger
GD Casey Kopua
GK Jane Watson
Changes: Q3 WD Pheonix Karaka, Karin Burger bench, Gina Crampton bench, Shannon Saunders WA,
Q4 Katrina Rore GD, Casey Kopua GK, Jane Watson bench, Amelia Ekenasio bench, Te Pae Selby Rickit GA,
GS Joyce Mvula
GA Sindi Simtowe
WA Thandie Galleta
C Takondwa Lwazi
GD Caroline Mtukule
GK Towera Vinkhumbo
Changes: Q2 Joyce Mvula – bench, Alineafe Kamwala GS then bench, Sindi Simtowe GS, Jane Chimaliro GA, Thandie Galleta bench, Bridget Kumwenda WA
Q3 Joyce Mvula GS, Sindi Simtowe bench, Towera Vinkhumbo GD, Loreen Ngwia GK, Caroline Mtukule bench
Maria Folau 38/42 90%
Amerliaranne Ekenasio 21/22 95.5%
Te Paea Selby Rickit 5/6 83%
Joyce Mvula 22/27 81.5%
Jane Chimaliro 18/22 81.8%
Sindi Simtowe 4/6 66.7%
Alinafe Kamwala 1/2 50%
Laura Langman (New Zealand) 19
Takondwa Lwazi (Malawi) 19
Shannon Saunders (New Zealand) 14
Takondwa Lwazi (Malwai) 35
Laura Langman (New Zealand) 23
Shannon Saunders (New Zealand) 19
*this match was Casey Kopua’s 105thinternational cap.