Struggling Ferns must find their finest hour
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.