Import Kumwenda ready to shine for the Tactix

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2014

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Netball

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If early impressions are anything to go by, new Tactix import Mwai Kumwenda could be ready to shine in this year's trans-Tasman netball league.

The Malawi goal shoot produced a pleasing effort in her first appearance in the red-and-black dress as the Tactix won both their pre-season games in Timaru on Saturday.

Kumwenda starred with 43 goals from 44 attempts (98 per cent) in three quarters of action as the Tactix overcame the Southern Steel 73-69. She also landed 31 from 34 during their 67-41 victory over a Canterbury men's selection side.

Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs was encouraged by Kumwenda's play and believed she would improve as she developed her partnership with goal attacks Julianna Naoupu and Sophia Fenwick.

"Mwai showed she's an extremely versatile player. She can play the holding game, but also the moving game," Gibbs said.

"Her goal attacks, Julianna and Sophia, stepped up. They're learning how to feed Mwai and some great ball went in. They know not to force it in."

The Steel led 37-36 at halftime, but the Tactix broke away in the third quarter to build a five goal buffer by three quarter time. Steel's Jamaican import and last year's league MVP Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was again difficult to contain, putting up 61 goals from 68 attempts.

Gibbs gave sufficient game-time to all 11 available players in Timaru and was able to switch her combinations. Captain Anna Thompson saw court-time at centre, which Gibbs said could be an option this season.

Defender Zoe Walker missed the games due to an ankle niggle, but is expected to be back for the trans-Tasman netball league's pre-season tournament in Melbourne, which runs from Friday to Sunday.

The Tactix will play seven games, consisting of two 15 minute halves, over the three days.

Their first game of the competition is against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in Christchurch on March 1.

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- The Press

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