FAST5 Ferns claim silver at Netball World Series
The FAST5 Ferns have claimed silver at the FAST5 Netball World Series, falling short against the defending champion Australian team in Christchurch.
Bookended by a strong start and finish, Australia secured back-to-back titles with a 35-23 victory over the Ferns at Wolfbrook Arena.
Ferns captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson said it was a good Australian team which put a defensive squeeze on her team, disrupting their efforts on attack.
“Their game plan was definitely to squeeze us together and smother us,” she said.
“That means you’ve got to reset, once you’ve reset the ball you’ve got to use it and we lost a couple on the ‘use it’, so their game plan worked.”
But the defender, playing in her first World Netball Series, said it had been a fantastic weekend of netball and one she enjoyed immensely.
“Coming here I was like, FAST5 is not for me because I can’t dance and I’m very competitive so the thought of having fun when I’m trying to be competitive – I didn’t know if I could. But I’ve actually loved it so much and I’d love to come back next year if they’d have me.
“It was a great team – an experienced team so we could have those performance conversations, we trained hard. It was like being in a really solid team and it was just such a fun week.”
The Ferns started with Tiana Metuarau partnering Grace Nweke in the shooting circle, Whitney Souness running at centre and Sokolich-Beatson and Kate Burley pairing up on defence.
Willed on by a passionate home crowd, they stayed within touch of Australia in the opening stages of a highly anticipated final.
But the lean of Australian defender Matilda Garrett, who was MVP of the final, proved difficult for the Ferns to counter and with no easy points on offer, the hosts found themselves down 3-6 heading into the first power play.
The Ferns came within one through four points from Amorangi Malesala but a strong finish to the spell gave the Australian’s a 12-7 lead at the break.
Breaking the Australian’s defensive wall of Garrett and Ashleigh Ervin proved a tough ask for the Ferns who were forced into errors late in the half – a four-point play from Georgie Horjus giving the visitors a 20-15 advantage at halftime.
Intensity lifted in a tight third spell with neither team giving an inch, but it was Australia again taking advantage of the power plays which proved the difference as they went into the last six minutes of play with a healthy 29-21 lead.