Silver Ferns on comeback trail
HAVING experienced the great Aussie fightback all year, with at times devastating results, the Silver Ferns are looking to create a comeback tale of their own in Melbourne on Sunday.
The two sides meet for the final time this year in Sunday's Constellation Cup decider, where the New Zealand side will be looking to heal some of the heartbreak of 2011 with a historic series win on Australian soil.
The Ferns have not won a series across the Tasman in over 30 years, when New Zealand swept all before them in the 1981 tri-series with England and Australia.
But to snatch the silverware away from the Diamonds, the Ferns will have to absorb the pressure of a never-say-die Australian side for a full 60 minutes.
New Zealand have led Australia at halftime in all five meetings this year, but on only two occasions have they been able to go on and convert their advantage into a win.
Their most brutal slip-up was in the final of the world championships in Singapore, where they blew a six-goal halftime lead to eventually fall to the Australians by one goal in overtime.
Wednesday's 51-44 loss to Australia in Adelaide was another example of the Ferns failing to make the most of their opportunities. They led by one goal at halftime, but stretched that lead out to five at one point in the third period. Australia fought back to level the score at 36-all heading into the final spell, before opening the last quarter with a seven-goal blitz to effectively secure the game.
New Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu said that after doing so well to compete for the first 45 minutes, she was extremely disappointed with her side's drop-off in intensity in the fourth quarter.
"It was a disappointing sort of seven or eight minutes in the fourth quarter, and we have to do something about it, because I don't want it to become a feature of our game."
Despite the loss, the usually severe Taumaunu could not help but be pleased with the development of Cathrine Latu, who held down the shooting end for the entire 60 minutes.
Taumaunu opted to leave Irene van Dyk, the world's most experienced shooter, on the bench for the Adelaide test so she could have a good look at what Latu brought to the international arena. And Taumaunu largely liked what she saw.
Ferns captain Laura Langman also had big wraps for the 1.89m shooter, and believes Latu will only get better once the midcourt learn to make the most of her talents.