Ferns flog Pearls

THE Silver Ferns have eased past Fiji in their third fixture of the Taini Jamison Trophy to claim a lopsided 88-27 victory.

Ranked 12th in the world, Fiji have proven to being the weakest team of this year’s four-team tournament.

They were thrashed by both Malawi and Jamaica in their first two fixtures of the series, and have never beaten the Silver Ferns.

Therefore, the Ferns shouldn’t be too impressed with the win, especially following their shock defeat to Jamaica last Thursday.

Jamaica claimed a historic win over New Zealand, 59-51, in a tough and physical match, where the Ferns struggled to keep up with their feisty and confident play.

Comparatively, Fiji simply couldn’t compete with New Zealand, whose poor start was never going to deny them a massive margin of victory.

The Ferns opened the first quarter with sloppy and error-ridden play, giving Fiji an extremely brief taste of success.Maria Folau, who sat out Thursday night’s game due to a knee complaint, was back in the circle, joined by Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

The Ferns, they quickly picked up their pace in both attack and defence, soaring to a 25-point lead by halftime.

Defender Kayla Cullen was welcomed back in the action for three quarters of the match.

After suffering a knee injury, Cullen was not expected to take part in the four-day series at all, however, the 26-year-old made a swift recovery to return to the squad, and comfortably controlled the centre court while moving the ball swiftly from defence to attack.

Newcomer Michaela Sokolich-Beatson made her second appearance at goal defence in the third quarter, relieving Katrina Grant. Sokolich-Beatson defended alongside the feisty Temalisi Fakahokotau to hone the pressure on Fijian shooters Maliana Rusivakula and Alesi Paul, who increasingly struggled to score.

At the other end, Ekenasio poured in 56 goals on 70 attempts, as the Ferns won the second half 47-11, to take the 61-goal win.

Earlier in the evening, Jamaica claimed their third straight victory of the series, beating Malawi 66-55.

The Silver Ferns will now face Jamaica in the final.