Taurua keen to harness fans’ energy

Noeline Taurua
Noeline Taurua
Noeline Taurua knows how hard it is for teams to win in Invercargill.

The Silver Ferns coach spent a season with the city as her fortress in 2016 when she led the Southern Steel, and returning south has brought all those memories flooding back.

"It feels like home," Taurua said.

"Definitely know the power of the mighty Southlanders and also what to expect when we get in the stadium."

The sellout crowd for the third Constellation Cup test will tonight be cheering on the Silver Ferns, playing their 550th test and their first in Invercargill in seven years.

"I’m so looking forward to it.

"We’ve been waiting for this — the roof is going to go off.

"It’s our ability to be able to contribute to that energy and put a very good performance out there."

That performance is much needed as the Silver Ferns trail the series 2-0 following the Australian leg.

Asked if winning the series was still attainable, Taurua said anything was possible "but I don’t think we’re stupid as well".

"We gotta win. If we don’t win, it’s as easy as that — the trophy’s already gone."

The Silver Ferns improved over the two tests. They were more fluid on attack, with midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Maddy Gordon settled, but they were lacking final execution across the court.

"I still feel, defensively, we’ve got to get more ball," Taurua said.

"In saying that, there are times where we do have the ball in hand and we just drop it or whatever happens.

"We’ve got to be disciplined in what we do. We can’t get caught up in the speed on the ball. We’ve got to be smart in the angles that we’re hitting, but also when we do go back into structure, stay.

"We do that momentarily, but sometimes we get caught up in the speed and what’s happening and the emotion of what’s happening."

Shooter Grace Nweke, who played two quarters in the second test, is still on managed minutes, but Taurua hoped to squeeze another quarter out of her tonight.

Young Amelia Walmsley has been filling the void and her coach was impressed with the 19-year-old’s progression.

Both shooters were called for offensive contacts on Sunday and the umpires joined the Silver Ferns training yesterday, helping the players gain more understanding of their positioning.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich called Nweke a "tremendous target" for the Ferns, but it did not change Australia’s defensive approach.

"It’s going to take a collective effort for us defensively, because she had that prominence in the circle," Marinkovich said.

"We’re going to be working really hard throughout the entire court to wear that down, but also give our circle defenders a chance and a look at the ball."

Australia last won on New Zealand soil in 2021.

Marinkovich felt her team still had not reached their peak, but knew tonight would be another hard task.

"New Zealand have been building and we know this game’s going to be a really hard battle.

"We know [Invercargill] is a heart of New Zealand netball as well. We can’t wait to get out on court."

The game will pay tribute to former Silver Ferns assistant coach and Southland netball Stalwart Robyn Broughton, who died last month. Stadium Southland has been renamed Robyn Broughton Stadium for the test.