Apr 27, 2018 Last Updated 7:34 AM, Apr 26, 2018


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New Zealand eased past Malawi in their opening fixture of this year's Taini Jamison Trophy with a 75-42 win at North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday.

The lopsided scoreline against the team ranked sixth in the world has set the tone for the Silver Ferns to defend the trophy, while stay on track in their buildup for next month's Commonwealth Games.

Malawi had a couple of close results in their three-test series against England late last year, so the ease in which the Silver Ferns put them away in this game should be an indicator that the team are heading in the right direction.

The trend for this game was quickly set, with the Silver Ferns scoring the first four points and they were up 18-4 after the first quarter, with Te Paea Selby-Rickit scoring 11 from 13 and Bailey Mes seven from nine.

Mwai Kumwenda shot five from six, while Jane Chimaliro one from one.

That highlighted the problem Malawi had:  they may have been able to score at a good percentage, but just couldn't get the ball down to Mwai Kumwenda and Jane Chimaliro enough.

There weren't any such problems for New Zealand though with wing attack Grace Kara combining well to Selby-Rickit, to help keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Towards the end of the second half Malawi did start to find their groove, with wing attack Bridget Kumwanda able to find goal attack Sindi Simtowe with some consistency.

However, it was another dominant quarter by the Silver Ferns, again scoring 18 goals, to lead 36-17.

Maria Folau came on at the start of the third quarter for Mes and quickly found her range with long range shots.

In the fourth quarter Michaela Sokolich-Beatson entered the fray to become Silver Fern 169, while Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Claire Kersten also got on.

It was all about getting game time and honing combinations for the rest of the game 

In the earlier game Jamaica sent out a message to the Silver Ferns that they're a team to fear this week.

In emphatic style, the Sunshine Girls thrashed the Fiji Pearls 83-38 and while the first quarter was tight, with the scores locked up 7-7 at one point, the game steadily got away from Fiji.

The fourth quarter was one of the most one-sided 15 minute periods ever seen in international netball, with Jamaica winning it 28-3 and scoring 23 unanswered points at the end of it.

Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who only played in the second half for Jamaica, was the top scorer with 37 goals from 40 attempts.

Netball NZ won't be setting any attendance records for this series. Only one of the stands, at one end was open and there were just a few rows of seats on each side of the court.

When Jamaica's match against Fiji started, there was only around 100 people in the North Shore Events Centre.

While the crowd did build up over the evening, the one-sided predictability and the fact that the Silver Ferns are playing at the same venue for four days in a row meant that many netball fans decided to follow this from afar.

Organisers will no doubt be hoping for a bigger crowd on Thursday night when the Silver Ferns take on Jamaica, an encounter that should be far more exciting.

Blue Eagles Sisters have been crowned the champions of 2017 Presidential Initiative on Sports Netball Championship after beating defending champions Kukoma Diamonds with 47 to 45 baskets.

Thirteen teams from the four country’s sports regions gathered at Katoto Netball Courts in Mzuzu from Thursday to Saturday to fight for the country’s prestigious Presidential Netball Cup.  

On their journey to the finals, the two teams had to see off the long-time heavy weights in netball.

Blue Eagles defeated Thunder Queens 46-31 baskets while Kukoma Diamonds stunned Tigresses in a thrilling encounter with 53-38 baskets.  

During post-match interviews, Blue Eagles coach Sam Kanyenda attributed their victory to thorough preparations

“We had a very hard training throughout and our players responded very well,” Kanyenda said.

His counterpart, assistant coach for Kukoma Diamonds Griffin Sayenda Junior was short of words as he quickly conceded defeat and congratulated Blue Eagles for emerging champions.

“We lost the game in the first quarter and that affected our game plan. Let me congratulate Blue Eagles for the job well done; they deserved the victory.

“It is painful we have lost two cups. But now our focus is on the league,” Sayenda said. 
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) President Khungekire Matiya expressed satisfaction with the organisation of this year’s tournament.

“As NAM, we are satisfied with the organization and the improvements so far made in the development of the sport. You can see for yourself that the team that has won the championship is an emerging one and many people did not expect this,” Matiya said.

As champions, Blue Eagles went away with K4 million while their runners up, Kukoma Diamonds got K2 million. Third placed Thunder Queens received K1 million while Tigresses took home K800, 000.
Thunder Queens’ Joan Kachilika was voted player of the tournament and she went away with K25 000 while Thandi Galeta won the accolade of best centre.

The Blue Eagles pair of Mary Banya and Madalitso Mkandawire won the best shooter and best defender, respectively.

Voice of Livingstonia (VOL) Radio reporter Allan Nyirenda was voted the best electronic media reporter for the tournament.

The Presidential Initiative on Sports is sponsored by government at the tune of K30 million.

England will renew their rivalry with Malawi this November in a three-match Vitality Netball International Series.

It will be the Roses' last international series of 2017 as preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and England's hunt for gold intensify.

With Malawi currently ranked sixth in the official INF world rankings, Peace Kaluwa's side will be confident of causing an upset at the Commonwealth Games and will be out to impress and show their recent rapid development when they come to England at the end of the year.

England certainly won't underestimate their opponents but will be seeking a repeat result of the last time Malawi visited. Back in 2014 the Roses saw out a comfortable 2-0 series victory, winning the first clash 68-36 and the second game 65-44.

The Copper Box Arena will play host to the first two games of the 2017 series with England and Malawi going head-to-head for the first time on Friday 24th November at 7.45pm before meeting again just two days later on Sunday 26th November at 2pm.

Both sides then move to the Genting Arena in Birmingham for the third and final game, which will take place on Wednesday 29th November at 7:45pm.

The past few weeks, Emma Mzagada who was playing partner of Mary Waya, reported in Nyasa Times complaining how the Queens deserted her after falling sick.

After being dumped by   Airtel Malawi, Malawi national netball team, the Queens have secured K600m, a five-year sponsorship deal from the Rach Family Trust.

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