Strug­gling Ferns must find their finest hour

Manawatu Standard - - Sport - AN­DREW VOERMAN

The Sil­ver Ferns are 60 min­utes away from the end of the in­ter­na­tional sea­son, so what bet­ter time than now for a 60-minute per­for­mance?

They need one in Syd­ney to­day if they are to beat the Aus­tralian Di­a­monds for the first time in this year’s Con­stel­la­tion Cup, avoid a white­wash, and end the year on a pos­i­tive note.

So far in this se­ries, pos­i­tives have been hard to come by. A close bat­tle in Auck­land was fol­lowed by a not-so-close one in Christchurch, and then an­other one-sided af­fair in Ade­laide on Wed­nes­day, where the Di­a­monds with­stood a thirdquar­ter fight­back from the Ferns to win by 12, 55-43.

Now, as they head into the fourth and fi­nal test, the Ferns are fo­cus­ing on seiz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties when they are pre­sented, said mid­courter Sam Sin­clair.

‘‘We’re re­ally look­ing at nail­ing our crit­i­cal mo­ments, and when I say crit­i­cal mo­ments, I mean like if we’ve got a turnover and scored it, then our next cen­tre pass, it’s re­ally crit­i­cal that we score it, be­cause then that gets us two goals ahead of them.

‘‘Our stats show that when we win those crit­i­cal mo­ments, we win the game, so if we fo­cus on that, and scor­ing any ball that we get, and trea­sur­ing our own cen­tre pass, we’ll be away.’’

The Sil­ver Ferns have now lost three straight to the Di­a­monds for the first time since 2015, and Sin­clair said the team were well aware they had dis­ap­pointed over the past week or so.

‘‘We’ve ac­tu­ally been re­ally good at tak­ing ac­count­abil­ity for the things we’ve done, so head­ing into the next game we’ve just got to take that on board and have a re­ally clear set of ways that we’re go­ing to go about the game - any 50-50 ball, we don’t throw it, ev­ery­one has to at­tack the ball on de­fence - that sort of thing.

‘‘It’s all about stick­ing to­gether as a team, and do­ing it with each other. We’re all in the same boat and it has been a long cou­ple of weeks, but if we do it to­gether it’s just so much eas­ier.’’

The Ferns did it to­gether in the third quar­ter on Wed­nes­day, shrink­ing the mar­gin from 11 to three at one point, and they did it In­ver­cargill at the start of last month, when they beat the Di­a­monds 57-47.

Look­ing back at that win, which seems a lot longer ago than six weeks ago, Sin­clair re­turned to the idea of nail­ing the crit­i­cal mo­ments.

‘‘I think we were just more of a co­he­sive unit [in In­ver­cargill], but I think we got them at a weaker time as well, and we nailed them.

‘‘We’ve no­ticed patches in games where we’ve got them un­der the pump, and un­der pres­sure, and they’ve started to crack a lit­tle bit, but we haven’t quite put the foot down.’’

First cen­tre pass for to­day’s game is set for 5.20pm (NZ time).

Sam Sin­clair says the Sil­ver Ferns must nail the crit­i­cal mo­ments in the fi­nal Con­stel­la­tion Cup test on Satur­day.

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