The Courier-Mail



NEW Zealand star Maria Tutaia says the Silver Ferns were fuelled by talk of their status as “underdogs” and “easybeats” ahead of yesterday’s upset World Cup win over Australia.

Tutaia starred for the Ferns with a dominant display at goal attack in the team’s 52-47 win that leaves them undefeated at the top of their pool after the preliminar­y-round matches.

The Silver Ferns had not beaten Australia in their previous nine meetings, including an 18-goal belting in last year’s Commonweal­th Games final, and Tutaia said the team had done a lot of soul-searching in the lead-up to the World Cup.

“It’s been pretty tough, we have looked at ourselves in the mirror actually for a long time,’’ Tutaia said.

“We didn’t want to come into this tournament knowing that everybody is saying that we are underdogs and that we’re easybeats and stuff.

“So to be able to squash that and be able to stamp our mark and let other teams know that we’re here to play is pretty cool.’’

Tutaia led the new-look Ferns’ attack with 34 goals from 48 attempts and could have inflicted more pain on the Diamonds had she sunk more of her shots.

Such was Tutaia’s early dominance, Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made a change at goal defence after just one quarter, replacing Sharni Layton with Julie Corletto.

Tutaia received solid support from goal shooter Bailey Mes, who finished with 18 goals from 21 attempts, showing off her strong rebounding and aerial skills.

But the Mystics goaler said the Ferns still needed to improve.

“It just gets harder from here. We have got Jamaica and England, who are firing, which is pretty scary,’’ Tutaia said.

“So we have just got to keep our cool heads, recover tomorrow and back to the drawing board.

“We know we have got so much more to work on, there were things on court that we weren’t as sharp as we normally are.’’

New Zealand captain Casey Kopua admitted the Silver Ferns surprised even themselves with their performanc­e.

“(It’s) great confidence and belief for us just to take forward just to show that what we have been doing works, plus also the confidence and the belief in each other.

“If we come up against them (Diamonds) again, it’s going to be even harder so just making sure that’s not good enough and we want more.’’

 ??  ?? DOMINANT: Goal attack Maria Tutaia nailed 34 goals.
DOMINANT: Goal attack Maria Tutaia nailed 34 goals.

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