Netball: Silver Ferns crash to emphatic defeat

By Michael Burgess in Adelaide

Laura Langman of New Zealand defends against Kimberlee Green of Australia. Photo / Getty
Laura Langman of New Zealand defends against Kimberlee Green of Australia. Photo / Getty

Australia 58
SIlver Ferns 50

The Adelaide graveyard continues and on this evidence the Ferns are beginning to wilt.

Looking for their first win in the South Australian capital in almost 30 years, the Silver Ferns crashed to an emphatic defeat that leaves their hopes of retaining the Constellation Cup in jeopardy.

Of greater importance though is the manner of the loss. Apart from the first quarter, the Ferns struggled to stay in touch on the scoreboard and the game was essentially over minutes into the second half.

Irene van Dyk was almost completely shut out of the match, managing only 18 goals (19 attempts) before she was replaced at the start of the fourth quarter. Caitlin Bassett was again almost unstoppable but the key to the win - as it had been in Auckland - was the performance of the Australian defensive end, in particular Laura Geitz and Bianca Chatfield.

Last week Wai Taumaunu said she feared the Diamonds might "get their mojo back" on home soil and they have. It might be unpalatable for New Zealand fans, but this young Australian side is beginning to resemble the machine like Diamonds sides of years past.

They progress through the court with almost unstoppable swiftness, with the ball into space almost always beating the player. They have the ability to disappear on attack while being relentless on defence.

In contrast the Ferns were hesitant with the ball in hand, often wanting an extra second. Geitz had talked described seeing "the fear in the New Zealanders eyes" when wanting to feed in Auckland and it was evident for long periods last night.

Of most concern were the needless errors - at least five times they were guilty of basic mistakes at centre pass, primary school stuff and unforgivable at this level.

Adelaide has been a horror venue for the Ferns, who last beat the Diamonds in the South Australian capital in 1986 and they made a nervous start. They gave up a turnover from the first possession and the Diamonds settled quicker, continuing their momentum from the second test.

The visitors eventually found some momentum to trail 15-13 at the first quarter break. In the next period the game got away from the Ferns, as they seemed hit the wall. Nothing went right as the Diamonds built a ten goal lead. Passes were astray, turnovers were given back and the Australian attackers were like ghosts that kept disappearing.

By fair means and (often) foul van Dyk was being shut out of the game by Geitz, and New Zealand only stayed in touch through a series of increasingly longer bombs from Tutaia.

A four goal run just before half-time at least gave the Ferns a base for the second half (30-24) but the omens were not good.

Both coaches rolled the dice in the second half, with Wait Taumaunu throwing Shannon Francois into the action - what a way to make your international debut - for Courtney Tairi - while Lisa Alexander brought Madison Browne on at wing attack and shifted Kim Greene to centre. It made little difference, as Australia extended their advantage to 47-34 by three quarter time. Australia maintained their advantage into the fourth quarter to close out the match.

Australia 58
New Zealand 50

- APNZ

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