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Sharpshooter Maria Folau puts Malawi to the sword in Netball World Cup opener

The Silver Ferns shut the door on last year's shock loss to Malawi with an emphatic 64-45 win over the African side in their opening Netball World Cup match in Liverpool.

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Noeline Taurua started with what shapes as her strongest line-up, which meant Maria Folau at GS, and Ameliaranne Ekenasio at GA.

The Silver Ferns scored first off the back of a mistake from Malawi.

It was then close for a while as the Silver Ferns got used to the unorthodox style of the Malawians.

The experienced defensive duo of Caroline Mtukule and Towera Vinkhumbo had New Zealand's shooters tied up at times.

It wasn't until the later stages of the first quarter that New Zealand pulled away.

The Ferns led 17-11 after the first quarter thanks in part to a perfect 12/12 from Folau.

Veteran defender Casey Kopua started coming up with some trademark intercepts and the Silver Ferns pulled further away in the second quarter.

Malawi's shooting lynchpin Joyce Mvula was benched for a time, as Malawi made three switches at GS.

The Silver Ferns took a 32-17 half-time lead and Taurua took the opportunity to make some changes.

Shannon Saunders came on at WA for Gina Crampton, while Phoenix Karaka came on at WD, replacing Karin Burger.

It was goal for goal for a time in the third quarter as Malawi put up more resistance, but New Zealand pulled away again in the later stages.

The Silver Ferns went into the final quarter leading 49-30.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit then took the court at GA, Katrina Rore came on at GD, and Kopua shifted back to GK.

The final quarter was Malawi's best, with them drawing 15-all with the Silver Ferns.

Malawi rocked the Ferns last year when they beat them for the first time at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but that is now a distant memory.

Folau, captain Laura Langman, and Kopua - all playing in their fourth World Cup, calming guided the Ferns throughout.

Ekenasio shot 21 from 22 from her three quarters, Folau was named player of the match finishing with 38 from 42 attempts.

The Silver Ferns meet Barbados tomorrow night in what should be a lop-sided affair.

rnz.co.nz


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