13 Aug 2015

Is it the Netball World Cup or NRL?

3:05 pm on 13 August 2015

When does a game of netball bear more resemblance to a game of rugby league?

The Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu may well have thought the Netball World Cup had been replaced by a round of the National Rugby League, when her charges took to the court in Sydney on Wednesday night.

New Zealand beat Malawi 57-49 in a very physical encounter to maintain their unbeaten run at the tournament.

They have one more second-round pool game against Uganda on Friday before a likely semi-final against England on Saturday.

Taumaunu had intended to rest top shooter Maria Tutaia but was forced to bring her on in the final quarter when goal attack Jodi Brown was injured.

"Jodi got hit off the ball in the third quarter and she's a bit sore."

Taumaunu was unimpressed and discussed the amount of off-the-ball contact with the umpires post-match.

Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu sought a 'please explain' from the match umpires following their win over Malawi.

Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu sought a 'please explain' from the match umpires following their win over Malawi. Photo: Photosport

"What they are trying to do is play advantage and I understand that. They are trying to let us get the ball unimpeded into the circle... at half-time though, I think the umpires made a conscious decision to be a little bit more aware and issue penalties for off the ball contact that was going on."

The NRL has cracked down on the use of the shoulder charge but there were a few "no arms in the tackle" efforts during the match, although Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua was loathe to make too much of it.

Kayla Cullen

Kayla Cullen in full flight against Malawi. Photo: Photosport

"You have to be able to take the hits and also react to it... but we knew it was going to be like that having played them previously," Kopua said.

Mid-courter Kayla Cullen was ready to step up as the side's enforcer, but found it particularly frustrating, and Kopua admitted she had to calm her down.

"I could see how frustrated she was getting and told her just to keep eye contact with me and keep it calm because at the end of the day what's it going to do? So just play it cool and just get the ball because at the end of the day that is going to make them more angry."

The Silver Ferns have Thursday off, their only day completely away from netball during the tournament.

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