New Zealand’s FAST5 Ferns are the only unbeaten team after the opening day of competition at the FAST5 Netball World Series at Auckland’s Vector Arena.
In a dream start for the defending champions, two wins from two against arguably two of the tournaments’ toughest opponents; Jamaica and Australia will help settle the nerves.
Australia and Jamaica had the tougher draw on Day One with three matches, the remaining four teams Malawi Queens, England Fives, FAST5 South Africa and FAST5 Ferns playing two matches.
The Sunshine Girls opened proceedings with a strong 35-28 win over South Africa, followed by an impressive first outing for Australia defeating England’s Fives by 40-19.
By the time the FAST5 Ferns entered the stadium for their first match against Jamaica, the expectation was palpable and they didn’t disappoint.
Shooter Maria Tutaia had the crowd on its feet sinking four three-point shots from five attempts to comfortably win the match 43-22.
When play resumed following a seamless Opening Ceremony, it was Malawi’s turn to take the court against the Australian Flyers, the match close and intense. The Queens don’t often get the chance to topple one of netball’s powerhouses, and they threw everything into it, falling short by just five goals 42-37.
England were then given the opportunity to restore some pride after their earlier heavy defeat and they played with pride to defeat South Africa in another close match 36-29. South African shooter Chrisna Bootha was named player of the match despite the narrow defeat.
The penultimate match of the evening featured two crowd favourites Jamaica against Malawi in the day’s most thrilling encounter. It was a physical battle which came down to the final few seconds with ANZ Championship star shooter from Jamaica Jhaniele Fowler, breaking Malawi hearts 37-35.
The only two unbeaten teams, New Zealand and Australia, faced off in the final match of the day, buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd.
Lifting to the atmosphere in the stadium the Flyers and Ferns played a final-worthy match to set the tone for the rest of the weekend, the Ferns victorious 39-26.
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