THE trans-Tasman netball rivalry is set to reignite in Invercargill next Thursday as the fourth and final test of the Constellation Cup comes to ILT Stadium Southland.
The Silver Ferns and the Australian Diamonds are contesting the cup, which the Kiwis have only won once in its six-year history.
Australia dominated the Ferns 68-56 in the series opener in Sydney, the venue where they suffered a heart-breaking 58-55 loss to the old foe in last year’s World Cup final.
Australia came out firing, taking an early eight-goal lead and the Ferns never quite recovered from their slow start.
The visitors were without star shooter Maria Tutaia for the opening test but are hopeful she will be fit for the final three.
Southern Steel wing attack Gina Crampton made her debut off the pine in the Sydney loss and will hope for more game time in her adopted hometown.
The series moved to Tasmania’s Silverdome yesterday and will head to Auckland’s Vector Arena on October 15 for the third test before the final showdown in Southland.
Australia are the Constellation Cup champions after retaining the prize in the 2015 series, which was tied 2-all.
ILT Stadium Southland marketing and business development leader Laura Morrison said netball continued to have a major following in the south.
“Southlanders are probably the loudest supporters in the country. The crowd can add a couple of players to the court so hopefully we can get them across the line.”
She believed budding female athletes got to see a clear pathway to netball from the provincial competitions on television, which kept interest strong.
Morrison was confident the Ferns could turn around their poor start to the series.
“They’ll be hurting and should come back stronger. Don’t write them off.”Southern Steel are running a cocktail function before the match in the Legends Lounge from 5.30pm.
Guest speakers will include former Silver Ferns Irene van Dyk, Adine Wilson, Wendy Frew, Tania Dalton and Donna Wilkins. Tickets are $25, available from ILT Stadium Southland.Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds, game four of the Constellation Cup, Thursday October 20, doors open 6.30pm, game starts 7.30pm.
Tickets: Adult – $55, child – $25, family – $125. Go to www.mynetball.co.nz/silver-ferns/tickets.html
– Jonathan Dine