Familiar rivals set for trans-Tasman World Cup final
The Silver Ferns have continued to climb to new heights over the course of the 10-day Netball World Cup tournament and now, against all the early odds, have a shot at the title. After losing to Australia (50-49) in their last preliminary match, the Silver Ferns subdued a high-flying England 47-45 in the semi-finals to clinch a rematch with their great trans-Tasman rivals.
Australia also had to battle hard to secure their spot after repelling a gallant South Africa 55-53 in the other semi-final.
After a shock fourth-place finish at last year’s Commonwealth Games, Taurua has built the Silver Ferns into a formidable unit since taking on the job 11 months ago and all the hard work since has started to come together at the right time.
“The heart and courage of this group is pretty cool,” she said.
“I don’t know if it’s just where we’ve come from and what’s happened over the last year where we pretty much hit rock bottom. But the only way from that is up and I’ve always known that we’ve got really good people, a great netball community and we’ve all bandied together which is synonymous with our country as well.
“So, alongside every day, it was about sticking to plan and being better than the previous day and slowly you start to build to get to the big dance and now we’re here.
“We just really want to enjoy tomorrow. From where we’ve come, we’re already winners on lots of fronts but that gold is now dangling just in front of us, so what’s one more step?.”
The Silver Ferns and Australia will meet for the 11th time in a World Cup final, tomorrow being the 16th edition of the sport’s showcase event.
Getting the first real measure of how they stacked up came in the first outing against Australia, Taurua only rating the Silver Ferns a six or seven out of 10 despite their second half heroics.
“Even though we finished just one behind and had a great fightback, there was stuff that we kept repetitively doing badly and I thought we got pulled apart defensively and didn’t work as a unit. We’re better than that,” Taurua said.
“So, we’ll take a lot of heart out of the England game, just as we did the first time against Australia around our own self-confidence and being able to deliver and knowing when we’re under pressure that we can still do what we want to do. Those are the most pleasing things that we will be able to take into the final.”
The Silver Ferns showed their growing resilience and ability to absorb, regroup and deliver against a well-credentialled England, the current Commonwealth Games champions, who also enjoyed massive home crowd support.
“We did stick to structure more against England than we did in the previous game (Australia),” Taurua said.
“Being down at halftime against England, in the past, we probably would have fragmented but we kept to what we wanted, regrouped and came back really strongly.”
“From where we’ve come, this is massive. There’s always that question mark, you can only plan so much and it’s not until you get out there and put the action to go with the words that you can actually feel things coming together.
“Now it’s just really exciting about what tomorrow can bring for us and I can’t wait.”