Sport | Silver Ferns

Silver Ferns upbeat despite third place finish at Netball Nations Cup

Several players made their international debuts during the tournament in England

The Silver Ferns clinched third place at the Netball Nations Cup in Leeds overnight in a tight tussle with Uganda, eventually claiming a 62-57 win.

With the focus on the future, coach Dame Noeline Taurua is proud of the Silver Ferns players who made their international debut during the four-nation tournament but admits there is a lot to do to close the gap with the leading nations.

We came out with the win and once again, with this current group, the only way that we can learn is by being on the job,” Taurua says.

“There were some really good moments but, on the opposite side of that, there were some areas that we really need to tidy up on.”

Having debuted three players during the week-long tournament - two of whom had travelled as training partners, and missing the experience of the likes of captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maia Wilson and Tiana Metuarau, the squad impressed Taurua.

New look line up an eye to the future

With co-vice captain Kate Heffernan ruled out with an Achilles tendon niggle and Maddy Gordon out as a precaution after suffering a head knock at training, the Silver Ferns introduced a new-look starting line-up. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, usually a centre, lined up at wing attack, returning international Michaela Sokolich-Beatson slotted in at wing defence while Tayla Earle and Amorangi Malesala, who made their debuts the day before against England, started at centre and goal-attack respectively.

Facing Uganda, ranked seventh in the world, for the second time at the tournament, the Silver Ferns started slowly before sneaking a two-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

Malesala was in the thick of action. Her lively movement, scoring accuracy and non-stop defensive work helped the Silver Ferns achieve parity before sneaking into a 16-14 lead at the first break.

This group has grown massively. We had 150 caps less than England in yesterday’s game and really pushed that game to the wire. Our ability to back up from one game to another is still a bit of a work-on and our ability to close the door when we need to is still a work-on.

But we can be really proud of those who made their Silver Ferns debuts, and there were a few, during this tournament,” Taurua says.