Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Ferns rack up big win

Silver Ferns 63
South Africa 24

Maria Tutaia shoots during the 2012 Quad Series match between the Silver Ferns and South Africa. Photo / Getty Images
Maria Tutaia shoots during the 2012 Quad Series match between the Silver Ferns and South Africa. Photo / Getty Images

The Silver Ferns have racked up the biggest win of the Quad Series, demolishing South Africa in a confidence-building performance ahead of Thursday's showdown against Australia.

Struggling with the intensity of the gruelling four nations tournament, the Proteas were always going to be on the wrong end of a one-sided scoreline in Tauranga last night.

The only real challenge presented to Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu last night was having to balance the needs of keeping the team fresh after a long international season, whilst also ensuring her first string side sharp for Thursday's re-match against Australia.

While the Quad Series spoils are now out of reach for the Ferns after the Diamonds demolished England 57-35 in last night's earlier game, the New Zealand side are eager to avenge their 20-goal loss Australia just over a week ago.

Having kept the South Africans to five goals for each of the first three quarters, the Ferns will be happy with the defensive job they did on the opposition last night.

But it was still a mixed attacking performance from the Kiwi side, with their error rate still in the 20s.

With all 12 players getting a run on court last night, there were always going to be periods of adjustment for each of the new combinations, but there was a couple of patches in the second quarter in particular when the Ferns intensity dropped off that will concern Taumaunu.

Looking for a fast start following their laboured opening against England in Wellington, Taumaunu started with her strongest line-up, with Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia returning to the run-on side.

The top line took little time to get in to their work, with Kayla Cullen coming up with an intercept on South Africa's first possession to get her side off to a flying start.

It set the tone for a dominant opening quarter as the Ferns racked nine goals before the shaky South Africans opened their account.

Leading 18-5 at the first break, the Ferns stumbled a little in the second quarter as the Proteas defence began to make their presence known, but the visitors were unable to capitalise on their turnover ball with Ferns defenders Katrina Grant and Casey Williams suffocating their opposition.

With a 21-goal lead at halftime, Taumaunu was able to introduce several new combinations, with Cathrine Latu and Jodi Brown coming on in the shooting circle for a much more clinical showing than their haphazard performance against England last week.

The Diamonds are nursing a few bumps and bruises in the camp after their brutal clash against the English. Shooter Catherine Cox was forced off the court in the third quarter with a corked thigh, while captain Natalie von Bertouch has a sore tail bone after "landing smack bang on my arse" in a heavy collision.

Having only just recovered from an ankle injury, von Bertouch was disappointed not to get a full 60 minutes under her belt. While she said her tail bone "hurt like hell" after the game, von Bertouch was confident she would recover before Thursday's finale.

"I'm not looking forward to the bus ride [today], that's for sure. But I'm sure it'll be fine, it's just the first initial stage when things are a bit sore," the veteran midcourter said.

Shooting stats

New Zealand
Irene van Dyk 21/23
Maria Tutaia 10/14
Cathrine Latu 27/27
Jodi Brown 5/9

South Africa
Melissa Myburgh 4/6
Chrisna Bootha 15/24
Maryka Holzhausen 5/11

- NZ Herald

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