Netball: Improving Silver Ferns must negate effect of Australian captain Caitlin Bassett

  • 13/10/2018

Both teams agree the supply line to lethal Australian shooter Caitlin Bassett holds the key to the third Constellation Cup test in Hamilton.

The towering captain with the unerring radar has been influential in all three Diamonds wins over the Silver Ferns in the past month, including a 37/38 effort in Townsville this week.

New Zealand must find a solution to Bassett on Sunday, if they are to end a streak of nine-straight trans-Tasman losses.

Veteran defender Katrina Grant believes the answer will be found, eventually, if they can hone the all-court defensive style being introduced by new coach Noeline Taurua.

When the system clicks, Grant feels the ball won't reach Bassett easily and certainly not as close to the hoop as in the losses in Brisbane (57-42) and Townsville (56-47).

"Her height is obviously a big factor and her shooting statistics are always high, so we have to get the ball before it gets to her," former skipper Grant told AAP.

"I feel like we're making progress, putting pressure on their middies [midcourt]. The more we're doing it, the more it becomes second nature, and we'll get better and better."

Former Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant.
Former Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant. Photo credit: Photosport

Australian midcourter Jamie-Lee Price, who's poised to make her debut in Hamilton, said New Zealand's approach hadn't gone unnoticed.

She felt the world champions played into their third-ranked opponents' trap at times.

"In the defence end, we got a lot of ball, but definitely we could probably tighten up a lot more in terms of the attacking end," Price said.

"We play better when we play short. I think a few times when the Ferns caught us, we'd looked long and tried to put a long ball into Bassett."

Veteran Silver Fern Maria Folau, who started in the unfamiliar goal-shoot bib, landed 32/38, often from much longer range than Bassett.

Grant said the score in Townsville didn't reflect the hard-fought nature of a test, in which New Zealand was crippled by 6-0 and 8-0 runs against them in the opening and closing quarters.

"I know it's becoming a broken record, but every time we get out on court, we need to make improvement somewhere.

"In front of a home crowd, I'm hoping we can take that extra step up."

The Constellation Cup will almost certainly remain with Australia for a sixth straight year.

New Zealand must win the last two tests by a combined tally of 25 goals, if they are to claim the silverware for the second time since the annual series began in 2010.