All the action between the Silver Ferns and Australia in the third Constellation Cup test.
Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua is calling on her players to handle the pressure in the third Constellation Cup match in Christchurch this afternoon.
The Ferns’ 45-36 defeat in game two was highlighted by a fast-paced Australian attack to open the contest. The scoreline was 15-6 in favour of the visitors after the opening quarter, and the Ferns never quite found their mojo after that.
In a series where they’re perceived underdogs, Australia can now sniff blood, and Taurua says the cream needs to “rise to the top”.
“Probably the most exciting thing when we get to the end of the competition is who can stand [up], not only physically but also mentally. That’s the test for us and it always has been against Australia.
“We have to be tested under pressure and we have to be tested in regards to our processes and our decisions.
“When a loss does happen you do drill down a wee bit more… all in all I’m really happy by what we’ve been able to do the last couple of days.”
Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio returns to the lineup tonight, having missed the second match on Wednesday as a precaution due to a calf niggle she suffered in the opening victory.
New Zealand certainly felt her absence against their transtasman rivals. While the Silver Ferns’ shooting percentage crept up from 78 to 80 per cent from games one to two, their points total dropped by a worrying 13 goals.
The skipper puts their scoring struggles down to the defence they faced rather than a lack of weaponry.
“We are not used to playing a [physical defence] and they do it so well. It’s hard just wearing them the whole time, you’re wearing a human backpack – it’s pretty exhausting,” she says.
Ekenasio was able to double as an analyst on the sideline during game two. She says there were positives out of her side’s performance, which was highlighted by midcourter Maddy Gordon’s debut and shooter Monica Falkner’s first start.
“The girls came into their own in the second half which is really cool to see, sometimes we don’t see that against an Australian side. What they do really well to us is they force is to play in isolation which we’ve always known,” Ekenasio explained.
“We get pushed apart, but we’ve got to make sure we come back and play together and use each other… that’s the structure we know that beats them.
“We’ve been quite good at playing back-to-back games, so this is just another test for that. But also it’s a back-to-back game against Australia which is a really good test to see where we’re at as individuals but also where the team is at.”
Winning a match against Australia is tough enough without bringing historical records into it, but that could also put New Zealand on the backfoot. The Silver Ferns haven’t claimed the Constellation Cup trophy in nine years, having won it just once since the competition’s inception in 2010.
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