Narrow loss for Silver Ferns ahead of semi finals
A stirring second half fightback helped the Silver Ferns produce at vintage trans-Tasman clash after they lost a cliff-hanger 50-49 to Australia at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
In their last match of the preliminary matches which determined the seeding order for the semi finals, the Silver Ferns will now meet the winner of the England vs South Africa which will be decided on Friday morning (NZT).
There was plenty to admire from the Silver Ferns who were on the back foot throughout the first half but responded in style to win the second half, coach Noeline Taurua inventive and successful with her decisions to make changes.
“I was really proud that we were able to fight back,” Taurua said.
“I thought we did have opportunities to be able to seal it but that’s how it goes. Overall it was really good to get that type of game and I enjoyed it.
“I thought all the changes that we made had an immediate impact and that’s great. Nine goals is hard to come back from but there’s a lot of fight and a lot of spirit and we’ll take a lot of heart from that.”
There were no surprises in the Silver Ferns starting seven with Katrina Rore slotting into wing defence in an experienced line-up. For Australia, Steph Wood got the nod over Gretel Tippett in the goal attack bib while Jamie-Lee Price took up the wing defence position.
The intent from both sides was obvious from the outset with no quarter given in a physical, no quarter given approach from the great trans-Tasman rivals.
The teams level-pegged through much of the first quarter, the Silver Ferns struggling for their timing under immense pressure from Australia’s defensive quartet.
Goalkeeper Courtney Bruce was a constant menace under the Silver Ferns hoop, both teams having to exercise plenty of patience in finding the path forward as each had turns at taking narrow leads.
Australia broke the shackles, making the better use of opportunities as both teams made late errors to take a 13-10 lead into the first break.
It was more of the same for the Silver Ferns on the resumption, relentless Australian pressure challenging the New Zealanders’ ability to get the ball circle-bound. With the signs looking ominous, back-to-back turnovers from defender Casey Kopua helped lifted the New Zealanders.
Looking to combat the impact of Bruce, shooter Bailey Mes (for Ameliaranne Ekenasio), and her aerial skills, were introduced a couple of minutes shy of halftime, into which Australia took a 28-22 lead.
Wing attack Shannon Saunders replaced Gina Crampton for the second half to coincide with a spirited response from the Silver Ferns. Down by as many as nine goals but overcoming their laboured through-court transition, the Silver Ferns produced a lively response.
Mes came on strongly with her shooting and athleticism, well supported by Ekenasio, who returned to the fray for Folau, as the pair turned on an impressive showing. Wing defence Karin Burger was injected soon after with Rore moving to goal defence and Kopua to goalkeeper.
Spearheaded by tireless captain Laura Langman, it was the Silver Ferns turn to exert some pressure when they won the quarter by two to reduce Australia’s margin to 40-36 at the last break.
In a riveting run to the line, the Silver Ferns continued to push hard all the way keeping the heat on Australia.
A brave decision to re-introduce Jane Watson and Folau two minutes before the final whistle paying dividends when a trademark Watson intercept helped the Silver Ferns draw level to leave a heart-stopping final minute of play.