Silver Ferns captain - 'a bronze medal is what we need'

12:52 am on 15 April 2018

Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant says "pride is on the line" when they play-off for a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games today.

The Ferns missed out on their first Games final after going down 65-44 to Australia in the semi-final on the Gold Coast yesterday.

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New Zealand's Temalisi Fakahokotau. Photo: Photosport

They'll now play Jamaica for the bronze after the Sunshine Girls lost to England in a one goal nailbiter.

Grant said it was difficult to lose in the fashion they did to Australia but said they must move on quickly.

"We don't want to go home empty handed. Jamaica are going to be tough, they are hurting as well. They had a really tough game against England and they'll be absolutely heartbroken from that."

Jamaica also beat the Silver Ferns in their last two encounters.

"Tomorrow is a really important day for us ...pride on the line here, we don't want to go home empty handed. We've got to give absolutely everything ...I don't even care how anyone feels you've got to leave it out on the court ...a bronze medal is what we need."

Australia started strong, forcing New Zealand into turnovers. At one point the hosts put on 5 goals to go up 8-3.

Maria Folau again was taking on a big shooting load. Goal shoot Te Paea Selby-Rickit, who was marked by Australian legend Laura Geitz, struggled to get free.

Captain Katrina Grant worked hard, pulling off a couple good intercepts, but Australia led 18-12 after the first quarter.

Bailey Mes replaced Selby-Rickit late in the second quarter, after she put up just 3 from 5.

Mes seemed to open up the shooting circle but she was pinged for offensive contacts at costly times.

Australia went to the main break leading 32-21.

At that point, Folau had put up 17 goals, while Mes and Selby-Rickit had contributed just 4 goals combined.

The Diamonds made a host of changes for the third quarter, notably Caitlin Thwaites replaced sharpshooter Caitlin Bassett.

It didn't affect the momentum of the home side at all. At one point they put on 7 goals on the trot to extend their lead by 17.

Mes got pinged again for contact and was replaced by Ameliaranne Ekenasio. At that point Grant went back to goal keep, and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson came on at goal defence.

The Diamonds put on another 7-goal scoring spree and the New Zealand defenders had little time to react as the ball came down the court at break-neck speed.

It was a damaging quarter that the Australians won 18-9 and they led the Ferns by a whopping 20 goals going into the final spell.

The Diamonds used the opportunity to get more of their squad out while the Ferns put on their best quarter.

Shooting accuracy again hurt the Silver Ferns, they finished with in the mid 70s compared to Australia's 90 percent accuracy.

Coach Janine Southby believes the Diamonds are a far better side than the one they beat by 10 goals just eight months ago.

"They've certainly grown, they've got some experienced players back in the group that they didn't have then and the reality for any team facing them at the moment is that they've got a team of 12 and that team of 12 can all take the court and all add value," said Southby.

Australian coach Lisa Alexander agreed that her side had taken its game to a new level and that the Silver Ferns hadn't necessarily gone backwards.

"I don't want to make presumptions about the Silver Ferns programme because I've got enormous respect. I know how difficult it is as a national coach, particularly for Janine. I support and have been a very respectful colleague of hers for a long time. She carries herself with great dignity and I think some of the stuff in the press is really a little bit distasteful to be honest. Coaching is a really difficult job especially at the national level."

Southby said it was the first Commonwealth Games for eight of her players and they would gain a lot from the experience.

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