27 Jan 2020

Silver Ferns take a lot out of Nations Cup

11:18 am on 27 January 2020

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua achieved her two main objectives at the Nations Cup - winning and building more depth.

Silver Fern Maia Wilson.

Silver Fern Maia Wilson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Silver Ferns beat a much improved Jamaica 67-56 to win netball's inaugural Nations Cup at the Copper Box in London this morning after surviving a bit of a scare.

Jamaica showed far more discipline than what was seen when they lost to New Zealand by 26 goals last week.

Near the end of the second quarter Dame Noeline brought Whitney Souness on at wing attack for Gina Crampton and Kimiora Poi for Shannon Saunders at centre.

The scores were tied 30-all at half-time, but the big question mark for Jamaica was whether they could sustain their effort in the second half.

At is turned out mistakes started creeping into Jamaica's game after the main break and the Silver Ferns started pulling away and led 49-41 heading into the final term.

Dame Noeline said there was a sense of calm at half-time.

"We just had to weather the storm, get better execution of the passes, put the ball into better space and make sure that we kept ball retention and I feel that once we did that we got on top of them really fast," Dame Noeline Taurua.

She said they are lucky they can bring on players with different styles of play.

"Gina and Shannon they pretty much set the benchmark or set the foundations for Whitney and Kimiora to come in. And youthful exuberance usually outshines any speed as well and I thought they did that really well, got a lot of movement but I also thought they were really tough on the ball and pulled a lot of penalties."

Jamaica's shooters were deadly accurate finishing with 96 percent accuracy.

The Silver Ferns shot at 88 percent with Maia Wilson finishing with 44 from 47 at 93 percent, which earned her player of the match.

Wilson has had a coming-of-age series and Dame Noeline said what she was able to do out on court was credit to the work she had done off it.

"She's made great gains in regards to the physical side and has improved so much in regards to her fitness and she's always been a smart player and has great skills and now that she is fitter she's able to do it at a higher intensity. Her shooting percentages were very high and we're really pleased about her progress."

Jane Watson was named player of the tournament.

Overall, the Silver Ferns had a strong tournament, enjoying a 16 goal win over England and a tighter win over a plucky South Africa. England claimed bronze with a tense 65-63 victory over South Africa this morning.

Dame Noeline gave everyone court time again today and said building depth had been one of the objectives.

"I'm really happy actually out of the whole tournament that those changes, that they made huge impact when they did take the court and really pleasing to see for me personally to know what the strengths are of individuals when they're under pressure."

She admitted it was hard to gauge just where they were, when the tournament was missing Australia and England were missing big stars.

"It's always difficult when you do have players out of teams or teams not involved, for example Australia but for us it was bigger than that. Yes we were looking to win the Nations Cup but also get valuable time to get people out on court so it is what it is and you play your opposition and you try and make the most of it."

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has been in the UK for the series gathering intel but Dame Noeline said "There's a long way to go without worrying about Australia and what they're doing and what they think that we're doing."

With Connie Francis back as coach of Jamaica, Dame Noeline said they could become a real force.

"Definitely after watching them in the first game against South Africa that's what I actually noticed the Jamaican way the Jamaican flair the ability to play the aerial game. With it being the first outing for Connie I'm sure she'll be able to build on this series and knowing that it's really valuable for them looking into 2023 so I think they're just going to be unstoppable once they get their team going and that's quite scary."

The players have a week off before they get back into ANZ Premiership mode and Dame Noeline said she would work with the franchise coaches and players over the season.

"But also looking at how we can build that next level underneath so looking for three levels underneath and now that's the work that we need to do within the zones and the cubs."