Aus­tralia hu­mil­i­ate sloppy Ferns

Sunday News - - SPORT - BREN­DON EGAN

THE Sil­ver Ferns won’t fea­ture in a gold medal game at the Com­mon­wealth Games for the first time.

New Zealand were thumped by rag­ing gold medal favourites Aus­tralia 65-44 in their semi­fi­nal at the Coomera In­door Sports Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

That means the Sil­ver Ferns will be forced to bat­tle it out for bronze with Ja­maica to­day. Aus­tralia take on Eng­land in the gold medal match after the Roses over­came Ja­maica in the other semi­fi­nal in a thriller 56-55.

It will be the first time the Sil­ver Ferns haven’t ap­peared in a gold medal match at the event, hav­ing pre­vi­ously played in ev­ery fi­nal since net­ball was first con­tested at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

After a shock loss to Malawi in pool play and a record break­ing nine-goal de­feat to Eng­land in their fi­nal group game on Wed­nes­day, the Sil­ver Ferns had to al­most play the per­fect game to get close to Aus­tralia.

Aus­tralia were quick out of the blocks, rac­ing to a 18-12 first quar­ter ad­van­tage, which blew out to 32-21 by half­time.

The on­slaught con­tin­ued in the sec­ond half with Aus­tralia pun­ish­ing Sil­ver Ferns turnovers with slick move­ment through the court down to their ac­cu­rate shoot­ers.

Aus­tralia coach Lisa Alexan­der switched around her shoot­ers for the sec­ond half, bring­ing on Caitlin Th­waites and Steph Wood, but it was a seam­less tran­si­tion.

The vic­tory was Aus­tralia’s sixth straight win over the Sil­ver Ferns since their sur­prise 57-47 loss in the Quad Se­ries de­cider in In­ver­cargill on Septem­ber 3. Aus­tralia’s last four wins over the Sil­ver Ferns have all been by dou­ble-digit mar­gins.

It con­tin­ued a wor­ry­ing run of re­sults for New Zealand since Oc­to­ber. This was their 11th loss in their last 17 games.

There were early dan­ger signs for the Sil­ver Ferns with Aus­tralia rac­ing out to a 13-6 ad­van­tage. It was too easy for the Aus­tralian mid­court, who were able to hit the cir­cle edge with ease and get the ball right where they wanted it to their shoot­ers.

Four unan­swered goals from the Ferns pegged it back to 14-11, but Aus­tralia fin­ished the open­ing term strongly to build a 18-12 lead.

New Zealand weren’t able to gen­er­ate enough early turnover ball with a Ka­t­rina Grant in­ter­cept the lone de­fen­sive pickup of the first quar­ter.

Bronze medal op­po­nents Ja­maica will fancy their chances against the Sil­ver Ferns. They won two matches within three days against New Zealand last month in the Taini Jami­son Tro­phy se­ries in Auck­land.

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