Netball: Silver Ferns thrash South Africa in Tauranga

By Peter White


Sunday night's international netball double header was the first time the Silver Ferns have played in the city and the occasion must be the highlight so far for the new TECT Arena.


Certainly the animated full house of 3100 fans loved every second of Australia versus England and in particular, the Silver Ferns storming 57-35 victory over South Africa.


This was the 25th meeting between the Silver Ferns and South Africa, with the shock loss in the 1995 World Championships the only blip on a perfect record by the Kiwis. The closest margin between the teams since 1999 had been 30 goals and on form so far in the quad series, there was no indication another upset was about to happen.


From the moment the Silver Ferns intercepted the South African's first possession they never gave their lesser rated opponents a chance and had the luxury of trying relatively untried combinations in the second half.


The old firm of captain Casey Williams at Goal Defence and Laura Langman at Centre dominated the early stages, and it was encouraging to see the renewed confidence and athleticism of 20-year-old Wing Defence Kayla Cullen, after a tough baptism at this level in the earlier rounds.


The home side had nine goals before the South Africans opened their account but the visitors gradually gained some parity as their obvious nerves settles down. Their shooters let the side down though, with a poor 50 percent success rate against the 86 percent generated by Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia.


Up 18-5 after the first quarter, the unbackable crowd favourites took control of every aspect of the game and gave the South Africans little time to settle with the possession they did manage to get. Both teams tightened their defensive pressure in the second period, which led to the rare sight of van Dyke missing two shots in the quarter, but at halftime the Silver Ferns had a 12-goal advantage leading 31-10.


Coach Waimarama Taumaunu replaced her first choice shooters after the break with Jodi Brown and Cathrine Latu, and former South African rep Leana de Bruin came on for her 99th international cap.


Captain Williams brought the biggest roars from the boisterous home crowd with a few of her signature lightning-quick intercepts and her team eased away in the third quarter even further to start the final 15 minutes leading 47-15.


Another newcomer to the Silver Ferns this series, Bailey Mes, stood out in the final stanza, showing plenty of aggression and determination at WA, and along with Cullen looks to be an outstanding long term prospect.


The Silver Ferns ended with a rousing finish, with Latu and Brown combining sweetly as the scoreline ballooned out to 63-24 at the final whistle.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 01 Oct 2014 09:04:19 Processing Time: 487ms