Silver Ferns bounce back in Australia clash
In a spirited outing, the new-look Silver Ferns showed heartening progress after being pipped 53-50 by the Australian Diamonds in their Northern Netball Quad Series match in London on Sunday.
The Silver Ferns rebounded in style from their opening 13-goal loss to England six days ago with a confident and encouraging second outing.
Early on, the signs looked ominous but the Silver Ferns recovered from a tentative opening, recovering from an eight-goal deficit after the first stanza to draw the second and win the third and fourth quarters.
Seasoned campaigners Laura Langman, Maria Folau and Casey Kopua delivered telling performances while Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Karin Burger chipped in with vital contributions as the Silver Ferns showed improving signs on the road to July’s Netball World Cup.
The Silver Ferns faced a torrid opening quarter onslaught from Australia, the Diamonds quickly into their stride with a slick showing at both ends of the court. Convincing with their speedy through-court transition, defensive suffocation and finishing pushed Australia out to a 14-6 lead at the first break.
Struggling with their ball placement and execution on attack, captain Langman, in her 150th Test for the Silver Ferns, moved into centre on the resumption with the robust Burger coming off the bench into wing defence.
The changes had immediate impact with Langman providing extra punch and drive on attack while Burger helped tighten the defensive screws, the Diamonds placed under greater pressure in moving the ball forward.
The connection between the mobile Silver Ferns shooting duo of Folau and Ekenasio clicked up another notch as the pair found their rhythm and rapport under the hoop.
There was also a big lift at the defensive end, with Kopua, back in the Silver Ferns after a three-year absence, giving glimpses of her vintage best in tandem with Jane Watson as the New Zealanders matched Australia all the way in a drawn second stanza.
The Diamonds kept their eight-goal advantage when leading 27-19 at the main break.
With Kopua and Burger featuring prominently, the Silver Ferns made a blistering start to the third quarter as the pair helped add to a growing number of defensive gains. Revelling in more fluency and accuracy across all facets, the Silver Ferns turned up the heat on Australia.
With the Silver Ferns closing to within three, Australia switched their goal attacks, the athletic Gretel Tippett coming on to replace Steph Wood. The Diamonds weathered the lift in intensity from the Silver Ferns to take a 39-33 lead into the last break.
Far from done, the Silver Ferns continued to push, making a confident start in the run home when twice closing the gap to just two goals, Australia hanging on for a gritty win on the back of a fine 31 shots from on-court captain Caitlin Thwaites.
The Silver Ferns will meet the South Africa Proteas in their final match of the Netball Quad Series on Monday at 4:30am (NZT).
Q1: NZL 6 - AUS
HT: NZL 19 - AUS 27
Q3: NZL 33 - AUS 39
FT: NZL 50 - AUS 53
Shooting Stats - Silver
Maria Folau 30/37 (81%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 20/22 (91%)
Shooting Stats -
Caitlin Thwaites 31/32 (97%)
Gretel Tippett 12/12 (100%)
Steph Wood 10/17 (50%)