Taumaunu anticipates an Australian backlash

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 14:06 19/09/2012
Waimarama Taumaunu
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
CLEAN SWEEP: There is still plenty to improve on for Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu.

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Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu is bracing for a backlash tomorrow, but she expects the Australian shooters to feel the axe for the second Constellation Cup test in Auckland.

Shooting was the decisive factor in New Zealand's opening two-goal victory in Melbourne on Sunday.

While the slick Ferns combination of Maria Tutaia (26/29) and Irene van Dyk (28/29) worked the circle and netted goals with ease, Australia missed 14 attempts under intense defensive pressure from Katrina Grant and Leana de Bruin, after star defender Casey Williams was ruled out.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander tried four different players in an attempt to overcome her side's shooting wobbles; Catherine Cox (27/33), Natalie Medhurst (8/12) and Erin Bell (2/4) all struggled for accuracy and volume.

Not until Catlin Bassett's (15-17) injection in the final quarter did Australia launch a late raid that ultimately proved futile.

Cox will make her 100th appearance if she takes the court at Vector Arena, but after missing six goals in Melbourne, Taumaunu is predicting the 15-year veteran will be benched and may not reach the milestone, just yet. 

"Given how effective she was I'd expect Bassett to start," Taumaunu said

After the world champion's underwhelming display first up, Taumaunu has warned her side to prepare for the predictable Australian onslaught tomorrow.

The visitors will be desperate to avoid losing a test series to New Zealand for time in eight years, and retain their two-year stranglehold on the Constellation Cup.

"We've got two more games against Australia. It's not that hard to keep you feet on the ground," Taumaunu said.

"Now the Australians have seen us. It is important we are ready for their response. We were one up last year so we are mindful we've been here before.

"I'm sure they are hurting. They will have learnt a lot from that game. They'll be looking at some chinks we have, as we are of them."

Taumaunu is right not to be overly excited. History doesn't bode well.

The Ferns have struggled to back up against Australia - they haven't registered consecutive victories against the trans-Tasman foes since 2005.

"I'm keen for us to have consistent performances. That's something we haven't done in the past," Taumaunu admitted. "We'll be looking to make sure that happens. That's our priority for Thursday."

Anna Harrison, the star at wing defence in the first test, echoed Taumaunu's thoughts.

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"It's nice having that first one but you can't rely on it," she said. "We were in this position last year. They'll come back. I imagine it will be another humdinger."

Williams, meanwhile, passed a fitness test yesterday and his hopeful her injured knee will recover in time.

"I passed today's test," the inspirational Ferns captain said.

"That's given me some hope but we'll manage it and see what happens. If I' m not 100 percent I don't want to hold the team back.

"I'll see how it reacts tomorrow. I can tell when I wake up in the morning."

- Fairfax Media

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