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Classy Silver Ferns revel in historic return to Wales

The Silver Ferns celebrated their first visit to Wales in 20 years with a comprehensive 92-27 win over the hosts in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Completing their Northern Hemisphere tour with a two-Test Series against Wales, the world No 2-ranked Silver Ferns made light work of the less experienced eighth-ranked Wales after banking their second-highest score against the hosts.

Relative newcomers to the Silver Ferns, Gina Crampton, at wing attack, and goalkeeper Kelly Jury enjoyed their first starts at Test Match level as the visitors ran a number of combinations throughout the match.

Fielding a young starting line-up, the New Zealanders were quickly into their work, delivering slick transitional play through court with their speed and passing into space. On the flip side, Wales struggled to penetrate on attack against a water-tight Silver Ferns defence.

Welsh wing attack Bethan Dyke provided some individual highlights but the Silver Ferns showed their polish when taking a healthy 22-9 into the first break.

Anna Harrison joined the fray at goalkeeper on the resumption, coinciding with a lift in intensity across all facets from the Silver Ferns.

Continuing their strong recycling on attack, the Silver Ferns maintained their standards while punishing anything loose by Wales. Slick team work across the court from the New Zealanders was rewarded with a strong shooting exhibition from Bailey Mes who returned 25 shots from 26 attempts in the first half and Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

Taking a stranglehold on proceedings, the Silver Ferns marched into the main break with a commanding 45-18 lead.

Both teams made multiple changes for the second half with teenaged shooter Maia Wilson, wing attack Grace Rasmussen and goalkeeper Jane Watson taking their places on court for the Silver Ferns. Captain Katrina Grant was also given a change of scenery after moving to wing defence.

Selby-Rickit continued to impress with her all-round skills in the shooting circle while the teenaged Wilson delivered a perfect shooting return of 15 from 15.

Dyke was tireless for Wales and well supported by shooter Chelsea Lewis but the home team struggled to contain the relentless Silver Ferns who took a handsome 67-25 lead into the last break.

The Silver Ferns finished with a flourish against a tiring Wales, Watson and Harrison providing a relentless defensive wall for their opponents, Rasmussen delivering the vision and flair on attack and Selby-Rickit and Wilson producing a shooting masterclass – both netting their highest returns for New Zealand.

The teams meet again tomorrow morning (NZ time) for the second match-up between the pair.