Netball: Impressive display sees Ferns through to semis

By Cathy Walshe

Silver Ferns 82 South Africa 23

The Silver Ferns succeeded tonight where the All Blacks could not - winning a world championship quarter final, as they destroyed South Africa 82-23 at the world netball championships in Auckland.

In an impressive display after some patchy pool play, the Silver Ferns turned on some energetic, often spectacular netball to secure a semifinal berth against Jamaica tomorrow.

The Silver Ferns didn't have the most auspicious of starts, with goal shoot Irene van Dyk missing her first shot at goal, a sitter from right underneath. But from then on, they never looked back, notching up nine goals on end before South Africa managed one.

In the circle, Jodi Te Huna really stepped up a notch, feeding van Dyk with assurance and sinking some sweet long shots. She also harassed the South Africans unmercifully in the midcourt, setting up a number of turnovers with well-timed tips.

At the other end of the court, Casey Williams marshalled a tight defensive unit from goalkeep, menacing South African shooters Tsakane Mbewe and Christine Markgraaff into uncertainty and pouncing on any loose ball.

The game was over at the end of the first quarter, with the Silver Ferns sitting on a 24-6 lead and Te Huna having shot eight from eight. Van Dyk had, by her own exacting standards, an ordinary start, sinking 16 from 18.

South African coach Burta De Kock benched starting shooter Tsakane Mbewe - who managed to sink only two from four shots at goal in the first quarter, bringing on Claudia Basson with immediate success. The introduction of captain Bronwyn Bock-Jonathon at centre also worked wonders for the South African midcourt, which finally settled and started working the ball downcourt with more purpose.

However, by halftime the Silver Ferns were in front 43-12, and coach Ruth Aitken was able to make her by now customary changes.

Te Huna, who shot 14 from 16, came off for Maria Tuataia, Maree Bowden replaced Adine Wilson at wing attack while wing defence Julie Seymour moved to centre. Joline Henry took over at wing defence and Leana de Bruin, recovered from a knock to the calf two days ago, replaced Sheryl Scanlan at goal defence.

Henry in particular shone in the third quarter, hunting the ball on defence, picking up a series of well-timed intercepts and looking sharp with some long-range passing into van Dyk to help the Ferns to a 61-17 three-quarter time lead.

Aitken made only one more tweak to her team at the last break, benching the hard-working Williams, who had thrown herself around the court with worrying enthusiasm. De Bruin moved back to goal keep and Scanlan to goal defence.

The young South Africans never gave up, and worked hard for every goal. But their real problem lay in a lack of possession, with the Silver Ferns through-court defence piling on the pressure and picking up turnover ball at will.

And once the ball did reach the shooters, they struggled to convert it to points on the board, with a success rate hovering around 65 per cent.

- NZPA

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