Mouthwatering battle for Cup

Friday October 14, 2016 Written by Published in Netball
Midcourter Shannon Francois is a key member of the Silver Ferns netball squad in the Constellation Cup. 16101349 Midcourter Shannon Francois is a key member of the Silver Ferns netball squad in the Constellation Cup. 16101349

THE SILVER Ferns' upset win over Australia sets the stage for a Constellation Cup netball decider in Invercargill next Thursday.


New Zealand's fourth-quarter composure set the scene for a 53-51 upset victory over the Australian Diamonds in Tasmania on Wednesday, to leave the four-match series in the balance at 1-1, heading into matches in Auckland and Invercargill, New Zealand.

More importantly, for Kiwi netball fans, the October 20 game at ILT Stadium Southland will determine the fate of the 2016 trans-Tasman series.

Netball New Zealand head of events and international Kate Agnew is very excited about the prospect of a series defining match in the south, with only a limited number of tickets still available for the international fixture.

While Agnew is unsure how many Australians will be crossing the ditch for the encounter, she is aware of plenty of supporters travelling from around the southern region for the match.

"I certainly know there are a lot of people travelling from Otago and I think there are a couple of bus loads set to come down as well," she said.

It is the first netball test match in Invercargill since 2014, when the Diamonds comfortably downed the Silver Ferns 59-42.

According to Agnew, Netball NZ shares the international fixtures around various parts of the country like Invercargill, where netball has plenty of fans.

"We also try to take matches to places where we get good support both from the community, but also from the city itself and we certainly find that when we come to Invercargill," she said.

"From the greater Southland, Otago area we get great support, so that makes coming south a pleasure."

"Invercargill sits at that 3500-crowd capacity, but the quality of the stadium in Invercargill is equal to any other in the country, I think Southland is incredibly fortunate to have the stadium."

There has also been a southern flavour to the Silver Ferns in 2016, with former Steel coach Janine Southby at the helm and a sprinkling of Steel players involved in Wednesday night's win.

"There's no doubt that the connectivity and programme that Janine has put together with the Steel in the last few years has definitely flowed through to the Silver Ferns," Agnew said.

"When you have got players like Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jane Watson and Shannon Francois performing really well, it has got to be satisfying all round."

Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt is thrilled to be staging the match.

"Hosting international events is the pinnacle for any venue and to have the opportunity to host the electric trans-Tasman rivalry between the Australian Diamonds and the NZ Silver Ferns will simply be fantastic," he said.

"Thursday night has the ingredients of being an absolute cracker of a game and one of course that we need the Southland crowd to be totally behind the Ferns."

The third game in the Constellation Cup series is on at Vector Arena in Auckland on Saturday.

            - Stuff

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