Fragile Ferns struggle to beat Uganda

Stella Nanfuka of Uganda and Ameliaranne Ekenasio of New Zealand compete for the ball during the...
Stella Nanfuka of Uganda and Ameliaranne Ekenasio of New Zealand compete for the ball during the Netball match between New Zealand and Uganda on day one of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images
Silver Ferns boss Janine Southby has credited a "niggly" Uganda outfit for making her troops fight tooth and nail for their 64-51 Commonwealth Games pool- play win.

With confidence levels down after their last week's Taini Jamison Trophy final loss to Jamaica, the Ferns again appeared fragile in their first Gold Coast hit-out, turning the ball over in attack far too often.

Across the four quarters, the Kiwis conceded 11 turnovers, making the match against the seventh-ranked Ugandans far closer than it should've been.

In the end, the shooting ability of Maria Folau, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ameliaranne Ekenasio - all netting at above 70% accuracy - was enough to keep the energetic Ugandans at bay.

For the She Cranes, star shooter Peace Proscovia bagged 37 from 42.

Despite the underwhelming margin of victory, Southby said she was pleased with parts of the performance, particularly offensive decision-making.

She acknowledged that Uganda had punched above their weight.

"There was a lot of accurate play on attack from both teams but we just really struggled to get ball off them. They were niggly and sharp; that shooter was hard to stop," Southby said.

"When we did what we said we'd do in attack we were good, and certainly the movement worked and the ability to just get the ball going.

"When we got static, held on to it, it wasn't good and we lost ball."

Looking to make a statement to gold-medal rivals Australia and England, the Kiwis instead struggled early, appearing lethargic across each third.

They relied on a number of trademark Folau long-bombs to secure a 15-10 first- quarter lead, followed by a 32-22 halftime lead.

Folau nailed a perfect 100% of her 22 first-half shots on goal.

Coach Janine Southby shuffled the decks for the third quarter, with Selby-Rickit and Ekenasio injected into the Kiwi attack, the mid-court rejigged and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson in at goal defence.

Yet little changed in terms of on-court performance, with New Zealand taking a 49-37 advantage into three-quarter time and only adding one more to that margin by the final hooter.

The Ferns must now recover quickly before this afternoon's pool clash against Wales - barely 18 hours after rounding off their Uganda match.

"Recovery is massive, and we'll have a look at this [game] too," Southby said. `

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