9 Feb 2017

Silver Ferns sweep Wales in Cardiff

9:37 pm on 9 February 2017

The New Zealand netballers have beaten Wales 72-39 in the second and final Test in Cardiff to complete a 2-0 series clean sweep.

Silver Fern Grace Rasmussen in action against Wales 2017.

Silver Fern Grace Rasmussen in action against Wales 2017. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Silver Ferns won the first Test 92-27 yesterday.

Producing a dominant second half, the Silver Ferns overcame a spirited Wales side to claim the Wendy White Trophy.

The Silver Ferns had another opportunity to test new combinations in today's test against their lower ranked opponents, though Wales showed considerable enterprise to notch up their equal-highest score against New Zealand.

The Silver Ferns started with an inexperienced line-up at both ends of the court, with Maia Wilson under the shooting ring and Kelly Jury at goal keep.

In just her fifth Test, Wilson showed she was far from overwhelmed by the occasion, making an instant impact by scoring the Silver Ferns first nine goals.

A competitive defensive circle and confidence in the shooting circle kept Wales in touch, with the Silver Ferns leading 15-12 at the first break.

There was more impetus from the Silver Ferns on the resumption, player of the series Grace Rasmussen showing plenty of enterprise from wing attack with a clean delivery of service to Wilson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit under the hoop.

Wales hung on grimly but lacked the finishing accuracy under mounting pressure from the Silver Ferns.

The three of Jury, goal defence Anna Harrison and wing defence Katrina Grant provided the New Zealanders with more turnover opportunities as the visitors increased their hold on the match with a 31-21 lead at half-time.

Wholesale changes by the Silver Ferns for the second half had a big influence on proceedings against a tiring Wales, who made limited changes.

The versatile Rasmussen made a seamless switch to goal attack, her creativity, vision and quick hands opening up spaces and adding sparkle to the Silver Ferns attacking line.

With a lift in their intensity levels, the combined efforts of Jane Watson (goal keep), captain Grant (goal defence) and Harrison (wing defence) stifled Wales attacking momentum.

The Silver Ferns continued to pull away, flexing their muscle on their way to a commanding 51-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.

There was more of the same in the final quarter, with the Silver Ferns continuing to dominant with a 21-goal haul while restricting Wales to just nine.

Meanwhile the Silver Ferns 2017 schedule has been confirmed, with New Zealand to host the Australian Diamonds, England Roses and South Africa's SPAR Proteas.

The Netball Quad Series, which has just been played in the northern hemisphere, will return to New Zealand soil in late August.

The Silver Ferns open their campaign against the Proteas in Australia, before facing the England Roses at The Trusts Arena, Auckland, on Wednesday August 30.

The Series will then head to ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill, for a blockbuster doubleheader on Sunday September 3 featuring the Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds, plus the England Roses and SPAR Proteas.

World number three, England, will then remain in New Zealand to contest the Taini Jamison Trophy in September.

The three-Test Series will see the Silver Ferns host them at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua (September 7), Pettigrew Green Arena, Napier (September 10) and Claudelands Arena, Hamilton (September 13).

The international season reaches its climax in October when Netball's greatest rivalry returns for the Constellation Cup.

The four-Test Series against the Australian Diamonds will start at Vector Arena (October 8) and Horncastle Arena, Christchurch (October 8), before crossing the Tasman for the final two Tests in Australia.

Netball Australia will confirm dates and venues for matches held in Australia at a later date.