Silver Ferns poised for thrilling Constellation Cup decider
With the Silver Ferns taking a 2-1 lead into the fourth Test, the stage is set for an emotive and fierce finale in the Constellation Cup-decider against Australia in Perth on Sunday.
In the city where the Silver Ferns won their first Netball World Cup in 1967 and where they hold a healthy 4-1 winning record against their old rivals, both teams need an outright win to secure the last trophy that’s up for grabs this season.
With everything on the line, respective shooters Maria Folau and Caitlin Bassett will add an intriguing backdrop to proceedings with both in line to post significant personal milestones. Sharp-shooting Silver Ferns stalwart Folau will mark her 150th Test while Australian captain Bassett will notch 100 Test caps in her home city.
“Our expectations are to win, we’re on the cusp of something great,” Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said.
“We’re capable of winning this game but that all comes back to the processes and our focus needs to be on doing the grind.
“This game is massive for Australia, their history and their identity. They will be wounded, there’s a lot of pride in there and if anything, it will go up another couple of notches.”
With many of the Silver Ferns having not played since their triumphant Netball World Cup win in July, Taurua is more than happy with the progress and team dynamics presented during the Constellation Cup. After a win and a loss on home soil, the Silver Ferns showed plenty of grit to win a thriller in Sydney to hold a slight edge heading to Perth.
“We have consolidated as a group. The Netball World Cup gave us a foundation but during this series it feels like we’ve gone up another notch and the intent has been really pleasing,” she said.
“It feels like the family’s come back together but we don’t want to get too comfortable, we need to keep challenging each other and keep going to new levels.
“We have greater self-belief and confidence but not to the degree where we have become arrogant or cocky because we know that if we do not do the things behind the scenes at the standard that’s required, then on-court we will be punished.
“We’ve got the recipe for success and we’ve just got to keep driving it home and work for it.”
For the Constellation Cup, playing four games back-to-back against the same opponent has created a new set of challenges as opposed to the Netball World Cup which was a series of one-offs.
“This is a different beast,” Taurua said.
“You’ve got to be quite smart, strategic and on your game and this is where having specialist coaches in Yvonne Willering and Jane Woodlands-Thompson has helped us refine certain strategies.”
After winning the first and third Test by single-goal margins with forceful late rallies, Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman is hoping for more impetus from the outset.
“I think in those games if you went 30 seconds longer it could have been a different story but in saying that, it is heartening to know that we have had the composure on a number of occasions to be able to get across the line,” she said.
“It’s not a situation any team wants to get in and we want to address what is happening in the earlier stages of the game, in terms of coming out of the blocks and getting a bit more presence in that first quarter.”