Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Netball: Roughed-up Ferns angry with umpires

Cathrine Latu is no shrinking violet herself but got battered by the Diamonds. Photo / Getty Images
Cathrine Latu is no shrinking violet herself but got battered by the Diamonds. Photo / Getty Images

Cathrine Latu is covered in bruises. Maria Tutaia is tired of being "steamrolled". And Wai Taumaunu has "no idea" how the Australian defenders got away with what they did.

The fourth Constellation Cup test in Melbourne on Monday was a brutal, no-holds-barred affair but the feeling persists that the physicality may have gone too far.

The Silver Ferns emphasise that the better team won on the night and are making no excuses. However, there is genuine frustration at the international umpires' apparent tolerance of extremely physical play from the Australians, particularly at the defensive end, where Laura Geitz and Bianca Chatfield showed all the subtlety and restraint of 18-pound bowling balls at times.

"I'm not gonna lie - it was pretty rip, sh** and bust [out there] and it can be frustrating as a player," says Tutaia. "You train your butt off day and night to get free from defenders and use skill - as opposed to them just steamrolling through you for no reason and not getting called for that.

"[The umpires] didn't do us any favours in the last two games but we just need to stick to our processes and believe in our game plan, even when we are getting tackled."

Latu is no shrinking violet herself but got battered by the Diamonds and, to add salt to the wound, was also penalised for retaliation on several occasions.

"[Cathrine] is pretty bruised [at the moment]," says Taumaunu, "She has got some bruises in odd places. I have absolutely no idea [how Geitz] got away with what she did. It has been going on around Geitz all year, even for the Firebirds, and I don't have an explanation."

"We have to accept it though," she adds. "There was a fairly heavy influence from the crowd on the umpires and physicality is partly the game plan against us - that is how we would interpret it."

- NZ Herald

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