Commonwealth Games: Jaded Ferns need rest after solid beating

By David Leggat

NZ netballers should be concerned at Australians’ rising strength with series coming up.

Maria Tutaia says Australia were simply too good in Glasgow yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker
Maria Tutaia says Australia were simply too good in Glasgow yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker

Rest and recuperation are next on the Silver Ferns' agenda after a Commonwealth Games campaign in which they fell short of the ultimate prize.

They need it after a gruelling couple of weeks and a busy year.

Some of the players looked distinctly jaded after yesterday's final. Their defeat to Australia in the gold medal match yesterday ended their Games dominance extending back over the last two tournaments.

They were well beaten. It wasn't a case of being unlucky, or the umpires causing them problems.

Australia's 58-40 victory was their biggest over NZ since a 20-point win in October 2012 in Sydney. The last four on the bounce have been won by three, one, five and eight points.

New Zealand need to be concerned. They have a four-game series in October and the World Cup is in Sydney next August.

"They played really smart, and played with width," wing attack Liana Leota said of Australia.

Goal shooter Maria Tutaia, playing with a foot injury that restricted her movement, admitted Australia were simply too good. "They definitely came out firing. On attack they were pretty much on point, on defence they were pretty rugged and they knew where we were going to pass the ball."

Tutaia said she was "not one to take silver very lightly" but she was proud of the obstacles her teammates had gone through, including being reduced to 10 fit players as she and fellow shooter Cathrine Latu were ruled out by injuries.

Tutaia added she had felt the injury, a plantar fascia problem picked up against Northern Ireland during pool play. "The adrenalin kicks in and takes over everything. But this happens once every four years so [it was a case of] harden up and play."

Australia were delighted with their first Games win since the prime of celebrated defenders Liz Ellis and Kathryn Harby-Williams in 2002.

"I'm so proud of them," coach Lisa Alexander said. "They really did buy into the story, which was to write their own history."

Tall shooter Caitlin Bassett, who was a challenge too far for the Ferns' defence and shot at 92 per cent, was most proud that "when we got ahead we didn't drop our play".

There's plenty of hard thinking ahead for NZ coach Wai Taumaunu.

As for the players, some won't be around on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Defender Leana de Bruin will be gone, while question marks hover over captain Casey Kopua, attacker Jodi Brown, wing defence Joline Henry and defender Anna Harrison.

- NZ Herald

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