$10m to back fe­male play­ers

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - Bren­don Egan bren­don.egan@stuff.co.nz

The Sil­ver Ferns must learn how to grind out wins in close games against qual­ity op­po­si­tion, Noe­line Tau­rua says.

Aus­tralia all but locked away the Con­stel­la­tion Cup for an­other year after top­pling the Ferns 56-47 in Townsville on Wed­nes­day to take a 2-0 lead in the four-game se­ries.

New Zealand showed signs of progress after Sun­day’s er­ror­rid­den 57-42 loss in Bris­bane, but were guilty of a fourth quar­ter im­plo­sion, which swung the match Aus­tralia’s way.

The Ferns ral­lied after half­time to trail 43-42 with 11 min­utes left, but pro­duced a hor­ri­ble fiveminute stretch, when Aus­tralia scored eight unan­swered goals.

New head coach Tau­rua, who has only been in the job a mat­ter of weeks, said they were com­pet­ing with the top two teams in world net­ball, Aus­tralia and Eng­land, for large pas­sages.

Learn­ing how to push through in the crunch stages of the fourth quar­ter and win games was the next chal­lenge.

For a team that lost to Malawi at the Com­mon­wealth Games and dropped three matches to Ja­maica this year, Tau­rua said it was about restor­ing con­fi­dence and stay­ing com­posed in the pres­sure mo­ments.

Aus­tralia didn’t flinch when the Ferns got within strik­ing dis­tance in their play and to push through when the game was there for the tak­ing.

Los­ing never sits well with the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive Tau­rua but she ac­knowl­edged the Townsville per­for­mance was a ma­jor lift from the Con­stel­la­tion Cup opener, where they com­mit­ted a stag­ger­ing 40 turnovers.

‘‘We were right there up to five min­utes of the fourth quar­ter and that in it­self is an im­prove­ment. I thought we fought re­ally well.’’

The Sil­ver Ferns’ re­build job isn’t go­ing to hap­pen over one se­ries against a team of Aus­tralia’s cal­i­bre.

Tau­rua stressed it was go­ing to take time to im­ple­ment her philoso­phies and strate­gies and de­velop com­bi­na­tions. Re­gain­ing re­spectabil­ity after April’s dis­as­trous show­ing at the Com­mon­wealth Games, where they fin­ished fourth and failed to medal for the first time, would take time.

As long as the Ferns were grow­ing with each game, Tau­rua said they would be tak­ing steps in the right di­rec­tion.

Noe­line Tau­rua is pleased with the progress from the Sil­ver Ferns, but says they need to learn how to grind out wins in the fourth quar­ter.

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