Using the extensive range of their combined expertise, the Mixed Invitational posted a dominant 59-47 win over NZ A on the second day of Cadbury Netball Series in Auckland on Thursday.
With both teams coming off losses on the opening day, the Mixed team never allowed NZ A to get into any flow or rhythm and were a cut above their opponents for most of the match which they led from start to finish.
It was a frustrating outing for NZ A, who could not breach the quality defensive work of the Mixed team combined with the impressive midcourt trio of Laura Scherian, Maddy Gordon and Kelsey Browne and top-notch shooting.
NZ A threatened on occasions but lacked consistency and were let down by untimely turnovers, much of it being put down to the relentless pressure applied by the Mixed team.
Blowing the cobwebs out in yesterday’s opener, the Mixed team didn’t take long show the improvement in their connections, putting it to good use with a slick start.
The height of the male component, most notably 2.12m shooter Quintin Gerber, and wing and goal defence respectively, Stefan Swartz and Kyle Owen was a key asset for the Mixed team. With the well-versed midcourt of Gordon and Australian Scherian, it ensured plenty of quality ball got into the hands of the shooters.
Blowing out to an early lead, the Mixed team were reeled in by NZ A with shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Tiana Metuarau retaining their top form of the previous day to keep their side within touching distance.
NZ A narrowed the margin to one goal before a late rally helped the Mixed team hit the first break with a 16-12 lead.
Both teams made a raft of changes for the second spell, but once again it was the Mixed team who shot out of the blocks in telling fashion.
Introducing a more mobile shooting combination in the form of Grace Namana and Amosa Faitaua-Nanai made little difference to the Mixed Invitational side’s ability to score goals, a run of eight in a row helping push them out to a lead of 11.
That was well supported by the speedy midcourt of Australian pairing of Scherian and Browne, making her first appearance of the series.
With Leana de Bruin, Mixed captain for the match, and Owen providing a disruptive presence on defence, NZ A were restricted to just one goal during the first eight minutes of the second quarter. A late mini revival helped narrow their deficit to 27-20 at the main break.
NZ A had their most productive return during a close third quarter which the Mixed team won by a solitary goal.
Peta Toeava and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan provided a lively midcourt contribution for NZ A in helping set up the shooters while defender Elle Temu did some sterling work under the hoop despite conceding a decisive height advantage to Gerber.
Goal attack Namana continued her strong form with her positional play and confident off-loading while the introduction of the lofty Erena Mikaere ensured the Mixed team kept their grip on the game through a non-stop defensive effort.
NZ A had it all in front of them when the Mixed team took a 41-33 lead into the last break.