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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK

Kiwis continue record spree

By Bruce Pope
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

New Zealand's netballers signalled their gold medal intent by breaking the Commonwealth Games scoring record for the second time in 24 hours against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The Silver Ferns were silver medallists four years ago in Kuala Lumpur and lived up to their Pool A favourites status with a stunning 116-26 win at the MEN Arena.

New Zealand had crushed Canada 101-17 in their opening match on Saturday, beating the previous record of 94 goals which they had set at the last Games.

"Now we've got to show the character to come through when the pressure is on"
New Zealand coach Ruth Aitken

But their coach Ruth Aitken, while delighted with the performance, promised that there would be no complacency for the tougher challenges that lay ahead.

"I do know that it's a completely different game when you're pushed," Aitken said.

"It's easy to look good in games like this but I'm delighted to have got the record.

"Now we've got to turn around and show that we've got that strength of character to come through when the pressure is on - but that's what top-level sport is all about."

Goal shooter Irene van Dyk again led the Kiwi charge, claiming 78 goals from 82 attempts, while her main partner up front, Donna Loffhagen, weighed in with 57 of her own.

The sheer height of the New Zealand shooting pair caused huge problems for the Sri Lankans.

But while the pass over the top was always an option, it was New Zealand's speed of thought and movement that ripped through the Sri Lankan cover with alarming regularity.

The architect of much of the good work was the bustling Anna Rowberry, the centre breaking up Sri Lankan attacks before springing forward in attack.

She was ably backed up by wing attack Jenny-May Coffin, who caught the eye with a moment of brilliance in the opening quarter - a sweet reverse pass worthy of an All Blacks scrum-half catching Sri Lanka flat-footed for Van Dyk to score.

Sri Lankan skipper Damayanthi Jayathilaka tried to rally her players, but the Asian champions - who have already lost to England and Wales - struggled to find ways through a physical Kiwi defence.

Gishanthi Jayakody and Sashika Samarasinghe plugged away doggedly in attack but New Zealand, ably marshalled by goalkeeper Linda Vagana, always had the upper hand.

Both coaches rang the changes in the second half, Aitken resting players for Monday's match against England which promises to decide who wins Pool A and takes an automatic semi-final spot.


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