As a joker who isn't the biggest netball-nut on this planet, I was quite intrigued by the reaction to the Silver Ferns' victory over the Australian Diamonds in pool play of the Netball World Cup last weekend. I know enough about world netball to know that there's two teams who have jostled for position as the world's best and that there's two teams in England and Jamaica who sit a few runs lower on the ladder.
Heading into this World Cup, the Diamonds had the wood over the Ferns which is a cycle that is on repeat with netball - the Diamonds are on top, then the Ferns have a few good years etc. Not to mention the ANZ Championship, which this season saw the Australian teams dominate only strengthening the favouritism of the Diamonds. But then the Ferns defeated the Diamonds in pool play and our wee nation reacted strongly with many experts and fans alike believing that the Ferns had evened things up.
But pool play doesn't matter, especially in a World Cup where the Diamonds knew that they could pretty much cruise through doing what needs to be done until they faced stiffer competition in the semi final and beyond. The Diamonds didn't need to beat the Ferns but obviously no team intentionally goes out to lose in international sport, but in similar circumstances to the Wallabies, I just think that the Diamonds weren't exactly peaking when they faced the Ferns the first time around.
Just like I think that Michael Cheika's Wallabies selections showed that he's more concerned with figuring out who is actually going to be in his World Cup squad, let alone figuring out his best 22-man team.
This is not to discredit the Silver Ferns, they tried valiantly and played their part in a final that I couldn't take my eyes off. The Diamonds however are just superior, they were slicker over the whole court and looked like they wanted the gold medal more as they reminded us of the quintessential Aussie ruthlessness. Trans-Tasman netball is awesome, especially in a game with so much on the line as both teams ramp it up a notch, leading the way for netball in terms of physicality and intensity.
I was interested in the two different styles which saw the Ferns rely on Maria Tutaia's long-shots with Bailey Mes rebounding as they fired off 38 shots from long range, nailing 25. The Diamonds shot from much closer to the hoop, with only 4 shots coming from long range. Tutaia's shooting range is an asset, but it's also where the Ferns were out-played by the Diamonds as Tutaia only hit 50 percent of her shots in the first quarter - the only quarter that the Ferns lost. Another funky stat saw the Ferns put up more shots to the Diamonds 75 vs 64.
That's where you've got to respect the Diamonds and just acknowledge their stature as a top shelf sporting team. The Silver Ferns had something that not many other netball teams have with Tutaia's ability to nail long range shots (she caught fire/shot normally after an average first quarter), but the Diamonds simply executed their own game better. Where the Ferns settled for those long range shots, the Diamonds were able to hustle and skillfully work their way closer to the hoop. Casey Kopua, our skipper and one of our top three players (Tutaia and Laura Langman as well) couldn't stop Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst, while Katrina Grant and Leana de Bruin couldn't do much either. The Diamonds just stuck to their script and were far too clinical.
The Aussies also good the nod in the first leg of the Oceania Championships as the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns both went down. Both coaches on the men's side of things highlighted that it's only 'halftime' as if the series is tied, the winner is the team who scores the most points which when applied to the Tall Ferns, doesn't make for great reading as they are down by 20 points.
It also made a late run by the Boomers thanks to Patty Mills who caught fire, that much more disappointing as the Tall Blacks lost the final quarter 22-15. That's after going into the 4th quarter down 49-44 so now it's a much bigger ask to win in Wellington by more than 12 points. Corey Webster, as he usually does, top scored for the Tall Blacks with 22 points as he made 10/24 shots but Mathew Dellavedova, David Anderson and Patty Mills were all more efficient with their shots.
Ricardo Christie, the best surfer of Aotearoa couldn't quite keep up his solid showings in the World Surfing League over the weekend. The WSL has stopped over in Tahiti, to take on one of the world's best breaks on Teahupo'o which saw Christie finish last in his heat and he was then defeated by Gabriel Medina in the second round.
This is the wave that gave Medina the win over Christie, it's a pretty good swell if you ask me and Medina showed why he's one of the best in the world.
Jarryd Hayne got his first run in the NFL, well pre-season NFL footy that is but it presented Hayne with his first shot at showing us and Americans what he can do. We need to look at everything Hayne does, with context as a few strong performances doesn't mean that Hayne will spend the regular season taking snaps as a running back. Hayne is just trying to make the squad first of all and from what he dished up against the Houston Texans, I'm feeling pretty good about Hayne's chances of making the San Francisco 49ers roster for this season.
Keep in mind that success for Hayne is merely showing that he can play in the NFL. This performance is a great starting point.
Shout out to the NFL for this as well...
Sergio Aguero goes alright doesn't he?
Romelo Lukaku, what a lad...