13 Sep 2017

Rattling Tutaia England's focus in test decider

10:11 am on 13 September 2017

Getting into the head of goal attack Maria Tutaia is the key to overcoming the Silver Ferns, England captain Ama Agbeze says.

In the wake of the second test win in the Napier at the weekend, where England levelled the three-test series at 1-1, captain Ama Agbeze revealed what the Roses believe was the key to their success - rattling Tutaia.

Tutaia had only a 50 percent shooting success rate in that test and was pulled mid-way through the match by coach Janine Southby.

She shot the lights out in the first test win and England captain Ama Agbeze said they knew they had to shut Tutaia down if they were to keep the series alive.

England captain Ama Agbeze and Te Paea Selby-Rickit battle for possession.

England captain Ama Agbeze and the Silver Ferns' Te Paea Selby-Rickit battle for possession in the Roses' second test win. Photo: Photosport

"We worked a lot on trying to get into her head, get her out of the zone, and I guess we succeeded," Agbeze said.

"When she's in the zone, she gets the ball and turns and shoots from anywhere," she said.

"It's not necessarily about her missing shots, but actually making her wary of going to the post.

"When you get in her head, she'll get the ball and she'll look to pass or look to see what else she can do."

Maria Tutaia is dismissing any suggestion have a psychological edge.

Maria Tutaia is dismissing any suggestion have a psychological edge. Photo: Photosport

So England believe they have a psychological edge heading into tonight's decider in Hamilton.

Suggest that to Tutaia though and she was having none of it.

"Good on them if that's what they think. Let them talk," she said.

"They didn't get in my head at all. I've been in this situation many times before and I have played England many times before and been up against Ama many times and I don't think she did anything different."

Tutaia is putting her off performance down to a "bad day at the office."

Whatever the reason, England certainly forced Tutaia into playing a different game.

She was forced to head out of the attacking circle more in an attempt to help out a struggling mid-court, which may have put her off her game.

It also then left her shooting partner Bailey Mes double-teamed and under pressure.

Get the ball, turn and shoot: that's Tutaia's on court process, looking to pass is secondary.

But forcing her to pass is what England believes unsettled her.

Tutaia was not fazed though, and said the way out of the rut was "to simply keep shooting ... I'm not one to shy away from the ball so I've got to just keep turning and shooting."

But if the shots don't fall England will know they are in a with a sniff. The question then is, do the Silver Ferns have the self belief to win without Tutaia?

That shouldn't be an issue.

They showed - against Australia in the Quad series, when they they beat the Diamonds by ten goals and Tutaia was on bereavement leave - that they have the ability.

But with a generally inexperienced side self confidence can ebb and flow, and the Silver Ferns need the tide of self-confidence to be high tonight.

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