THE Fast5 Ferns captured a seventh world netball title in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Ferns included Opotiki shooter Monica Falkner as they won the Fast5 Netball World Series final, beating Jamaica 34-33.
The shortened format of the game includes less people on the court, more points for long-range shots and power plays as some of the key differences from the seven-a-side game.
The Ferns were beaten by Jamaica in round robin play earlier in the tournament but bounced back to win the final.
“This is absolutely awesome and I’m really pleased for this group of girls,” Ferns coach Debbie Fuller said.
“Jamaica are such an athletic team and you cannot underestimate their pride, the aerial game they’ve got and their power, in terms of what they can do on the court, so we had to come out with a strategy that would choke the ball into their shooters.
“Everyone committed to that and we were able to hold it for that dying last minute which seemed to go on forever.’’
Taking their power play in the second quarter was not as productive as the Ferns would have liked, but their ability to chip in two-point shots throughout the match, with all shooters – Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Bailey Mes, Falkner and Aliyah Dunn contributing, kept the New Zealanders well in the contest.
With an imposing Jamaica, bookended by outstanding defender Shamera Sterling and towering shooter Romelda Aiken, taking their power play in the last quarter and trailing by just nine, compounded by the threat of long bomb specialist Shanice Beckford, the signs looked ominous for the Ferns.
Potting the close shots, with excellent rebounding from Mes and Ekenasio, and a wholehearted team defensive effort, the Ferns just kept their noses in front through a gripping final stanza.
It was an excellent showcase for shorter-format sports and four of the nine games on the final day were decided by one point.