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Australia turns the tables on Silver Ferns

Australia turns the tables on Silver Ferns

Australia scored their first win over the Silver Ferns in 18 months with a morale boosting 48-38 result in the second netball test at Acer Arena at Sydney Olympic Park tonight.

It squared the two-test series one-all after the Silver Ferns won 52-40 in Brisbane on Saturday as both teams showed a dramatic reversal in form for tonight’s second outing.

Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken’s option to leave super shooter Irene van Dyk on the bench, in particular, and trial a new line-up with a view to next year’s world championships did not pay dividends.

After her stunning form of the first test, Maria Tutaia struggled at the beginning of the game in goalshoot position, facing a searching challenge from hardened Australian defender Liz Ellis.

The early loss of midcourt dynamo Temepara George, who required a pain-killing injection to a hip injury in the opening five minutes, also worked against the New Zealanders. The resulting reshuffle had Laura Langman moving from wing defence to centre and the recalled Joline Henry off the bench and into wing defence.

A more composed Australia showed improved patience and steadiness on attack to thread the ball through the midcourt and into shooters Sharelle McMahon and Susan Pratley to build a first quarter lead.

Ellis and co-defender Mo’onia Gerrard made life tough for the Silver Ferns shooters who struggled under the hoop as Australia went to the first break 12-8 ahead.

Van Dyk came on in the second quarter for Tutaia while Leana de Bruin replaced Casey Williams at goal defence. The changes had little effect on Australia who stuck to their task with dogged determination to hold the upperhand 27-19 at halftime.

George returned to her centre position after halftime but looked to be hindered by her injury. Some of the Silver Ferns combinations failed to gel and the attacking options were often stalled in the midcourt by some strong through-court defensive work by Gerrard and Natalie von Bertouch.

McMahon and Pratley’s quick hands and foot speed also got the better of Silver Ferns defender Vilimaina Davu, who was replaced by Anna Scarlett at halftime.

An injured Belinda Colling was forced from the court late in the third quarter with Tutaia returning and the Silver Ferns trailing 39-28 at threequarter time.

In the final quarter Australia continued to stifle any hopes of a Silver Ferns comeback. Try as they might, the Silver Ferns could not muster a consistent reply and were left wanting in most areas.

For Aitken, the exercise would have given her plenty to ponder ahead of the return three-test trans-Tasman series in New Zealand in October.

It was a much improved Australia tonight, who showed more punch and speed through the midcourt which was finished off by a polished shooting effort.

``It was a bit of a nightmare really,’’ Aitken said afterwards. ``I thought we just looked flat out there. Australia, as we knew, were very hungry and they had nothing to lose and everything to gain and they just threw everything at us.’’

The Silver Ferns play South Africa in the one-off Fisher &Paykel International Netball Test on Monday night at The Trusts Stadium in Auckland.

Shooting Statistics:
Silver Ferns:
Irene van Dyk 15/19 (79%)
Maria Tutaia 12/16 (75%)
Belinda Colling 11/17 (65%)

Sharelle McMahon 22/32 (69%)
Susan Pratley 19/28 (68%)
Kristin Heinrich 7/10 (70%)

Player of the match: Susan Pratley


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