The New Zealand Men’s team created their own piece of history, becoming the first men’s side to claim the FAST5 World Netball Series spoils with a thrilling four-goal victory over their Australian rivals.
The men’s team netted six key power points in the dying minute to beat Australia 29-25 to the delight of a full house at Christchurch Arena on Sunday.
Player of the Match, Amosa Faitaua-Nanai, said he was speechless after the exhilarating win which was the icing on the cake on what had been a meaningful year for men’s netball.
“I don’t know whether I’m overwhelmed by the whole experience to be honest,” he said.
“But to play in front of a home crowd and take the Cup to top off what has already been an historic men’s year for netball – you can’t get any better.”
The goal attack said the backing of the parochial New Zealand crowd made a huge difference in what was a tight tussle between the two netball powerhouses.
“It was like our sixth man out on court so we’re so thankful for all the fans that came out to support us.”
Losing by seven goals just 24 hours earlier, New Zealand turned the tables on Australia and Faitaua-Nanai said they focussed on doing the basics well in the final.
“I think we were just a little bit more clinical. We went home and slept on it last night and we just had to stick to our processes at the end of the day. It was the typical Aussie way and they’re always going to come back – we just had to grind it out and I’m super proud of the boys for playing it out for the full 24 minutes.”
Two power point shots from the New Zealand Men, one to Te Reiwhati Vercoe and Amosa Faitaua-Nanai, gave them a 13-8 buffer at the first break.
The arm wrestle continued in the second spell with neither side able to claim dominance, Australia edging ahead by two but still trailing their Kiwi rivals 15-18 at halftime.
The long lean of Timothy Apisai was again troubling for the Australian shooters but an error early on attack in the third spell allowed Australia to close the gap to one midway through the stanza.
With the score locked heading into the third quarter power play, the 90 seconds could have been decisive but again neither side could grab the initiative in the tight tussle leaving the last six minutes in the fourth quarter to determine the winner.
Australia edged ahead and with a two-point advantage with one minute to play but New Zealand, backed by the crowd, netted the power-point goals for the historic win.
The New Zealand Men had earlier accounted for England 36-22 to book their spot in the men’s final against Australia.
England captain Jamal Nicholson said despite losing both of their matches in Christchurch, they had been delighted to be a part of the FAST5 World Netball Series.
“It’s exciting to think that all of our friends and family back home have been watching these games live and to just be a part of this.”
England finished strongly in the match, taking the last quarter, and Nicholson said their involvement in the game this weekend would only be of benefit to their game.
“It’s been a huge learning curve for us, and we hope that growth in our game can only continue.”