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Netball: Fearless Ferns ready for toughest test yet

Silver Ferns shooter Maria Folau fighting for ball possession against South Africa - Photo: © www.Photosport.nz 2018

The Silver Ferns aren't intimidated by world number ones Australia who they will face tomorrow to close out the 2018 Netball Quad Series.

Timing is everything in netball and for the Silver Ferns facing Australia tomorrow is a moment to show why these two nations are still the most iconic teams to watch in world netball.

Together they hold the most netball history playing their first match against each other in 1938. Australia won that game 40 to 11 and it was here the trans-Tasman rivalry of the ages began and tomorrow, marking their 140th test match, they will meet where it all started in Melbourne.

During these 80 years though the two nations have travelled down two very different paths.

Australia took the route of concentrating on growing world netball in their own backyard, while New Zealand have battled to rebuild their structures which look to be improving under coach Noeline Taurua's tenure.

"I feel this Quad Series and the Constellation Cup is the start for us," says Taurua.

"To play the world champs who have dominated our sport for so long I'll have a clearer understanding of what I need to work on and also our areas of strength."

"I find playing Australia exciting to see what we've got or how far away we are from the opposition."

If the Silver Ferns thought England's physicality in game one's 52 to 39 loss was tough Australia, in Taurua's words, is a 'different beast'.

The defensive pressure rattled New Zealand shooters immensely only shooting at 68 percent which improved dramatically in game two against South Africa rising to 86 - Maria Folau only missing two goals for the full 60 minutes.

Australia are running on a high after a dominant 61 to 44 win over South Africa, and after losing the Commonwealth Games gold medal to England earlier this year snatched a 52 to 47 victory over them.

Shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit explained how processes were put in place this week to keep confidence building in the circle to combat the pressure Australian defensive duo Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston are known to apply.

"They are a classy side and we know we will get that physical one on one defence so we do more stuff against each other, more on the body stuff at training to prepare for that," says Selby-Rickit.

"We don't want to change too many things just keep building, we've got another four games against Australia so we just want to improve every game."

The last time the Silver Ferns played Australia was at the Commonwealth Games going down 65 to 44.

New Zealand last won a match against the Diamonds nearly two years ago at the 2015 Constellation Cup winning 50 to 47 under former coach Janine Southby but while history is unfavourable for the Ferns, that's not on the minds of coach or players.

They have repeatedly stated 'we can't save the world in a day' and after spending time in Australia Taurua knows the rebirth of her side starts with the right mind-set consisting of a sound respect for the black dress and belief in one another.

"I no longer find them (Australia) daunting because I am immersed in the system and understand why they are so good, they don't take for granted that they're there," says Taurua.

"Australia have a great defensive style of pure man to man with the ability to wear players for 60 minutes so to execute the ball is difficult if you're not used to it - those ingredients make world champs."

"We improved against South Africa and the story says the same we need to work together and we need to keep possession of the ball."


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