Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Margin no longer what matters to the Silver Ferns

Captain Katrina Grant secures rebound ball for the Silver Ferns. Photo / Photosport
Captain Katrina Grant secures rebound ball for the Silver Ferns. Photo / Photosport

For the Silver Ferns, there is freedom to be had in surrendering the outcome of the Constellation Cup.

The Australian Diamonds have all but secured the title for a fourth straight year after a commanding 62-50 win in Saturday night's third netball test.

While the Ferns still have a chance to level the series in the final test in Invercargill on Thursday, they will need to pull off a miraculous result to gets their hands on the trophy for just the second time in the competition's seven-year existence.

A drawn series will be decided by goal percentage (goals scored divided by goals against) - an area the Diamonds dominate following their two 12-goal wins over the Ferns.

New Zealand would need to win the final test by around 25 goals to wrest the trophy away from Australia.

But the Ferns will be putting the calculators to one side this week and focusing only on producing a game they are proud of in their final hit-out of the season.

The scoreline on Thursday night does not matter so much to Ferns skipper Katrina Grant. She just wants to make sure the Ferns are on the right side of it.

After making huge progress between the first and second test, bouncing back from a 68-56 loss in the series opener to pull off a shock two-goal win in game two, Grant was disappointed her side let it slip again.

They are desperate to prove the result in Launceston was not an anomaly and they are capable of regularly defeating Australia.

Grant said to win in Invercargill, her side will need to pay particular attention to the effort areas - playing with urgency, contesting every pass, chasing down the loose ball and backing up one another on attack.

"We just have to show we want it more," said Grant.

"We need to do what we know we do well and back each other up. We can't go out there as individuals. At times we did that [on Saturday night] and we lost our way.

"We're a really tight unit and a really good team, so if we can rediscover that form from Launceston, I know we will do well."

Ferns coach Janine Southby believes the biggest area her side had been exposed in over the course of the series was their ability to perform consistently at the intensity level required.

She said it had been a huge challenge to learn how to back up performances, particularly given the tight turnaround between matches.

"For all of us, it's about being able to back it up again and again, because when we get to those pinnacle events in 2018-19, that's what you have to do," she said.

After an energy-sapping schedule in the past week, including just a two-day turnaround between the second and third tests, both sides had a day off in Auckland yesterday. The teams will head to Invercargill today ahead of Thursday's final test.

- NZ Herald

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