Stars need to fire for Silver Ferns
Staring down the barrel of a Constellation Cup clean sweep, coach Janine Southby is adamant she’s got the best netballers in the country in the Silver Ferns squad.
New Zealand’s struggles in the annual series continued in Adelaide on Wednesday night, being outgunned 55-43 to hand the Diamonds an unassailable 3-0 lead and the silverware for a fifth straight year.
The Silver Ferns have just pride to play for in the final match in Sydney tomorrow after another forgettable performance, which included an alarming 41 turnovers.
After last month’s memorable 57-47 Quad Series victory over Australia in Invercargill, the Silver Ferns headed into the Constellation Cup optimistic of claiming the trophy for the first time since 2012.
They have been hugely disappointing and just six months out from the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, have a plethora of issues to deal with.
Of most concern is the inconsistent showings from senior players Maria Tutaia, Shannon Francois and skipper Katrina Grant, who created greater impact in Adelaide, and the amount of possession being tossed away.
Southby was unwavering in her view they had the strongest possible squad available. Players needed to show they could match it with Australia for 60 minutes and start delivering.
‘‘I believe we’ve got the players, who can do this, but they’re not showing the belief in themselves at the moment.
‘‘Overall, everyone needs to step up. They’re all capable and they’re all much better than what they’re showing.’’
Southby has showed loyalty to
her starting seven, using the same players in all three losses, but her patience must be wearing thin.
She defended her decision not to make changes early in the second quarter when Australia went on a 12-4 run to open up a 24-14 advantage, hoping her frontline players would settle.
Midway through the term, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Kayla Cullen and Temalisi Fakahokotau were all injected into the game, but the damage had been done.
Fakahokotau and Selby-Rickit have had their moments off the bench in the series and must be pushing for a start. Starting wing defence Samantha Sinclair has impressed when given a chance at centre and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see changes made for the dead rubber.
After trailing 30-19 at halftime, following a dreadful second quarter, the Silver Ferns played their finest netball of the series in the third term. They won the quarter 15-8 to trim Australia’s lead to 38-34 entering the final 15 minutes before ugly mistakes on attack resurfaced.
Their careless turnover rate (they committed 25 in the first half and 41 for the game) was unacceptable at international level. Several were basic held ball, stepping or breaking calls from senior players, who should know better.
‘‘I don’t think the plan Australia has played with has changed dramatically and we know they’re always going to be in our face.
‘‘We’ve got to get a lot better at absorbing the pressure and still making good decisions.’’
A rare positive for the Silver Ferns was their defensive improvement, picking up a steady supply of Australian turnover ball, which was squandered right back.
Against a ruthless Diamonds side, it was pivotal any extra ball they received, they scored from, which wasn’t happening.
‘‘That’s killing us,’’ Southby said. ‘‘The quarters we do [capitalise off turnover ball] we do really well.’’
Temalisi Fakahokotau again added impact off the bench for the Silver Ferns in game three in Adelaide.