Silver Ferns taking game-by-game approach

19:11, Jul 24 2014
Laura Langman
WARY: Silver Ferns midcourter Laura Langman is expecting an improved Malawi team.

Just like a good book, the Silver Ferns don't want to risk spoiling the ending by peeking at the final page.

That ending will hopefully be another thrilling victory in the Commonwealth Games gold medal final, a win which would be New Zealand's third in a row.

Before that, however, there's an awkward path through pool play to be negotiated.

After a three-test series against Malawi earlier this year, and the familiar presence of Tactix goal shoot Mwai Kumwenda, the Ferns know a lot about what they can expect from the world's fifth-ranked team tonight.

''Our understanding of them is largely based on our series from last year and the improvement we've seen from Mwai Kumwenda in the ANZ this year,'' Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu said.

''I'd imagine that their shooting circle, as it always has been, will be a big strength for them. We are probably a little less familiar with their defensive players, but we are relatively familiar with the style from last year.''


There's a lot to lose and not a lot to be gained - except a win -  from matches against teams the Silver Ferns have never lost to - Malawi, Scotland, Northern Ireland and St Lucia.

The best the New Zealand team can hope for is to avoid injury as they roll through the pool like the norovirus that struck workers in the Games village pre-event.

Ferns midcourter Laura Langman is expecting an improved Malawi team from the one they beat by an average 30 goals over three tests in October.

''If anything, what stood out for me from our test series last year is they are very fast learners. They've got footage of that test series so I'm expecting [them to be] very patient, very accurate in that shooting circle, and defensively [our] feeds have to be spot on. They are very elusive and they play a style of netball which we would say is not traditional, and they can pounce from anywhere,'' she said.

The Ferns will focus more on accuracy than the scoreboard against the minnow teams.

''We want to make sure that the processes are right so when we come to the business end it's subconscious,'' Langman said.

''Obviously hitting our stats, first and foremost...we've been working on ball distribution into the circle and ensuring that that distribution is seamless throughout the court. That will be a key for us in the midcourt, the link with the shooters.

''I think we've got a really good pool, a tough first game and a really good challenge towards the end of the week as well.''

That challenge will come from a Jamaican team with a Manhattan skyline dominated by Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken.

With arguably the two best shooters in the world, the Jamaicans could play Aiken at the defensive end of the court, something the Ferns have tape of and have prepared accordingly.

A win over Jamaica would set up a semifinal against England, and the form book would suggest a final against tournament favourites Australia.

Taumaunu is hoping to see improvements in the areas which were glaringly deficient in a 5-1 Constellation Cup series loss last year to the Diamonds where the biggest margin was eight goals.

''I think we've had quite a bit of focus on getting the ball into the circle and decision making around shot taking,'' she said.

''Those were the two biggest learnings...I think when we went back and really reflected on that competition, although one of the margins was quite large [the others] were quite small. The areas where there was quite a level in difference between us and Australia were quite marked.''