Ferns triumph in thrilling Fast5 finale

BEN STANLEY AT VECTOR ARENA
Last updated 20:32 11/11/2012
Fast5 Ferns
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ
The Fast5 Ferns celebrate their victory in the Fast5 World Series.

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New Zealand have been crowned the first ever Fast5 World Series champions, after downing England 23-21 in a pulsating final at Auckland's Vector Arena.

Sealed with a shot from Kiwi shooter Maria Tutaia in the game's last moments, the final was an excellent advertisement for the newest short form of netball, which incorporates double points 'powerplays', sides without wing attacks or defenders, and possible three-point scoring options.

For the majority of the second half, it appeared as if an English victory would be built on a clever possession game in the third quarter, when the Fast5 Ferns took their powerplay.

Thanks to astute control of the ball, New Zealand were only able to score six points in their six minutes.

But in a tight final quarter, which saw only three points scored, all by New Zealand, the Fast5 Ferns claimed the title and finished the tournament unbeaten.

England, who beat New Zealand in the final of the FastNet competition last year, came out of the gates strongly, with shooters Jo Harten and Rachel Dunn converting all their early opportunities.

The Fast5 Ferns hung close, though the shooting of the normally steadfast Maria Tutaia looked shaky to start with.

Recent Silver Ferns debutant Bailey Mes continued her rich vein of form, nailing two crisp two-pointers, although New Zealand would trail 9-6 after the first quarter.

In a bold move, England took their powerplay in the second quarter, but struggled to make the most of it.

The Fast5 Ferns were electric on defence, with livewire skipper Laura Langman in the middle of everything, before their opponents claimed 10 points late in the quarter to lead 19-14 at the half.

New Zealand would take their powerplay after the break, but would have less luck than England getting the most out of it.

Their opponents were content to dominante possession, and while not scoring, limit the Fast5 Ferns ability to move down the court.

New Zealand could only manage four points in total, and headed into the final six minutes 21-20 behind.

The final quarter was the perfect advert for the game, with Tutaia getting the game-sealing point with ten seconds to go.

English shooter Harten could have stolen victory with a last-second three-pointer, but it missed the target.

Earlier in the evening, Malawi defeated Australia 33-30 to claim fifth place in the tournament.

The young Australian team did not claim a victory in any of its six matches.

Meanwhile South Africa beat Jamaica 38-34 in the third/fourth playoff.

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- Fairfax Media

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