Silver Ferns' attack slack against weak Jamaica

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2014

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There's nothing a tight forward hates more than emerging from a scrum or ruck to see another one of the backs have dropped the ball.

It's one of those common occurrences that, in bad rugby teams, can quickly breed a sense of division.

No-one's suggesting the Silver Ferns netballers are a team at loggerheads, but you wouldn't begrudge the team's defensive players if they were a bit grumpy with the attack following yesterday's 52-46 win over Jamaica in London.

Faced with the often impossible task of countering giant Jamaican goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler, Leana de Bruin and Katrina Grant did an admirable job in the Silver Ferns' defensive circle, aided by some suffocating work up the court from Joline Henry and Laura Langman.

Only, de Bruin, Grant and Henry weren't able to look up at the scoreboard and see that their efforts had borne much fruit.

Instead they were on duty again as another Silver Ferns pass went astray at the attacking end or a shot bounced out.

Converting turnover ball into goals is the key to success in test netball and ought to have been fairly straight forward against what was a limited Jamaican side. But the Silver Ferns shot at just 82 per cent and rarely fed their shooters with any real fluency.

Jamaica had their own troubles finding Fowler, with Grant cleverly taking their goal attacks out of play and leaving the goal shoot isolated against de Bruin. It was quality stuff that didn't really go rewarded.

"I thought we did a pretty good job," Grant said afterwards.

"We wanted to make sure that no-one got a clear look into Jhaniele. That was the aim and, at times, I thought we did that quite well."

Grant, de Bruin, Henry and Langman all saw out the 60 minutes, cementing what's a pretty good combination, in the absence of captain and star goal defence Casey Kopua.

But there were changes and a general disjointedness up the other end, where Millie Lees started at wing attack, with Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia in the shooting circle.

The connection between Tutaia and centre Langman looked all right, but the rest of the time things were a struggle and coach Waimarama Taumaunu dragged the trio off at halftime, New Zealand leading 24-18. Their replacements, Shannon Francois, Cathrine Latu and Jodi Brown, did a decent job. But it does raise issues, ahead of Tuesday's test against England. If there is a first-choice attacking line-up, it isn't immediately apparent.

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