Diamonds to play fast and loose with Silver Ferns

Australian netball coach Norma Plummer has called for the Diamonds to loosen up and use their speed and skills to beat New Zealand in Thursday’s Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

Plummer said the pressure of a semi-final appeared to stifle her side’s normally free-flowing style early against England on Tuesday, with Australia needing to overhaul a halftime deficit to win 51-45.

“We didn’t just back ourselves and let the ball go, I think we were just thinking about the outcome, not the delivery,” the Diamonds coach said.

She said they could not afford to make the same mistake against the Silver Ferns.

“We just have to go back and realise now, we’ve just got to go out and play, we don’t have to do anything but loosen ourselves up and deliver the ball,” Plummer said.

“I just was a little bit disappointed that they didn’t let the ball go (against England) and let the penalties come too, because if you get the possession and then you get hit you get a penalty.

“We were inclined to go ‘I won’t pass it there in case she doesn’t catch it.’ I think they’ll pull that together for the final.”

Speed of ball movement will be particularly important given Australia’s preferred attacking set-up with captain Sharelle McMahon and Natalie Medhurst, who are both relatively short, in the two shooting spots.

By contrast one of New Zealand’s key weapons is 190cm shooter Irene Van Dyk, while the Silver Ferns had to overcome another beanpole shooter Jamaica’s Romelda Aiken to book their spot in the decider.

“Our line-up we have at the moment with Nat Medhurst and I is just a slightly different thing for the defenders to look at,” McMahon said.

“They’re often used to a tall goal-shooter and that’s not me, so it’s a little bit different for them.”

NZ captain and defender Casey Williams said guarding the Australians would be a big change from the Jamaicans and a major challenge.

“It’s damned hard. Once again we will be shagged again after the game, but that’s what I like about it. You are testing yourself against the best.”

NEW DELHI – 14/10/2010 7.37am [AAP]