Netball: Ferns out to rival Australian showing

By Dana Johannsen

Bailey Mes. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Bailey Mes. Photo / Steven McNicholl

For the Silver Ferns, the netball Quad Series is supposed to be about building depth in their team and gaining exposure against different international sides.

But privately at least, they're also playing a game of one-upmanship with Australia.

Mindful that the Australians beat England by 24 goals in Sunday's opener in Adelaide, the Ferns want to be similarly dominant against the No3 side tonight.

Ferns defender Katrina Grant said Australia had set the bar high.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at what Australia have done and want to try and at least match that, but we've got to worry about winning the game first," said Grant.

The gritty defender acknowledges the Ferns expect the English to capitulate the way they did against the Diamonds.

The understrength side were unable to compete for the full 60 minutes, falling off the pace markedly in the second half.

But New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu does not believe fitness is an issue for Anna Mayes' side.

"We have to be wary about labelling them a side that can't go the distance, because ... it could have been jetlag catching up with them the other night."

After a fairly straightforward demolition of South Africa on Sunday, New Zealand are preparing for a much sterner challenge from England. The Ferns yesterday took on a team of local players, which included Swifts players Samantha May and April Letton, in their final training run in Newcastle.

Top of their list from Sunday's opener was addressing their error rate, which, despite a 36-goal win, was uncharacteristically high.

While making some allowances for the fact they were trialling new midcourt combinations and were up against a side that they knew little about, the turnover count was too high for Taumaunu's liking.

She was particularly displeased with the first-half effort, with the frontline of Cathrine Latu, Maria Tutaia and debutant Bailey Mes all very expensive on court.

Mes had a quiet outing on Sunday, displaying few of the qualities Taumaunu had spoken of when she took a punt on the virtually unknown 22-year-old.

Mes will be conscious she needs to have a much more commanding presence tonight if she gets her chance.

But Taumaunu is also keen to see more of young talent Kayla Cullen at centre.

To accommodate Cullen, Laura Langman - the world's best centre on current form - was moved to wing attack.


Quad Series - Leg 2

Tonight, Newcastle

8.30pm Silver Ferns v England

10.40pm Australia v South Africa

- NZ Herald

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