Silver Ferns beat Jamaica in London, only just

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 10:09 18/01/2014

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New Zealand will take little satisfaction from their 52-46 win over Jamaica in London this morning.

Jamaica were reasonable opposition, but not really in the Silver Ferns' class and Waimarama Taumaunu's team would've wanted to put them away by a more convincing margin.

Two practice matches against Scotland looked like they'd done little to help New Zealand gel and their play was ragged at times, as a lack of combination took away some of the team's customary cohesion.

The Silver Ferns battled from the outset. They won enough ball, through some excellent through-court defence, and made sure that Jamaica's midcourters couldn't feed goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler with certainty.

But they then had similar problems of their own getting the ball to Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia in their shooting circle.

There were few issues getting the ball down the court, unfortunately everything seemed to grind to a halt at the circle edge.

Laura Langman to Tutaia was often the only option, with Millie Lees not feeding as regularly and van Dyk struggling to shake off the Jamaican defenders or to attract the attention of her team-mates when she did.

That contributed to the Silver Ferns' inability to build a commanding lead, with their advantages being just 14-10 and 24-18 at the two breaks.

Coach Waimarama Taumaunu reacted by benching Tutaia and van Dyk at halftime, with Jodi Brown and Cathrine Latu paired up in the shooting circle.

Shannon Francois also replaced Lees at wing attack.

You would assume that those changes were pre-ordained, although Taumaunu is not slow to drag a player when she's unhappy with their contribution and Francois and Latu are genuine starting options in their own right.

Defensively, New Zealand were good.

Fowler will always present the opposition with an enormous challenge, but the Silver Ferns did a fine job of marginalising her.

Langman and wing defence Joline Henry put massive pressure on the ball through court, leaving the circle duo of Katrina Grant and Leana de Bruin to isolate Fowler from her goal attacks.

Jamaica tried different options in that bib, but each battled to work in concert with Fowler.

The third quarter was much of the same. At times the Silver Ferns looked quite fluid on attack, yet still weren't able to make much impression on the scoreboard, as they headed into the final 15 minutes
leading 38-32.

There were definitely things to like about the Brown-Latu combination, just too much ball frittered away in between the good moments.

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