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No half measures for Silver Ferns defence

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

There are few things less effective in netball than a hesitant circle defence.

As a general rule, if you're going to be wrong, at least try to be wrong with conviction.

Silver Ferns defenders Katrina Grant and Jane Watson aren't always getting it right, but considering they've only played five games together, their success rate is pretty impressive.

The pair are certain to feature again on Saturday when New Zealand tackle Jamaica in the third and final Test in Rotorua.

The Silver Ferns are missing long-serving defenders Leana de Bruin, who has retired, and one-time skipper Casey Kopua following the birth of her first child.

Watson was a late call-up to the squad, shoulder-tapped only as a replacement when evergreen defender Anna Harrison withdrew after injuring her calf.

Watson's assured performance on debut against England in the Quad Series earlier this month gave New Zealand coach Janine Southby no option but to rethink her starting line-up.

Silver Ferns skipper Grant is at the other end of the spectrum, accumulating 84 caps since making her debut against Australia eight years ago.

But she says despite that experience, there's no substitute for time when it comes to forging a new international partnership.

"Pretty much all you need at this level is time together," she told NZ Newswire.

Although goal defence Grant has amassed eight years' worth of knowledge, that doesn't mean she holds the leadership role in New Zealand's defensive circle.

"Jane is my eyes, really - she's the one behind, and if she goes somewhere decisively, I can read off that.

"You need people to be real direct in what they do. It depends on where you're sitting, what you're doing, the angles you're playing and what side of the court the ball's on.

"It's a combined leadership role."

Watson, 26, has stamped her mark on the international game with impressive speed, picking up a swag of deflections and intercepts while keeping her penalty count low.

She agrees communication is key, especially when it comes to hunting outside the circle.

"There's definitely going to be times when it's not going to work, and someone's going to be left alone, but that's life," she told NZ Newswire.

The Silver Ferns have already picked up two hefty wins over Jamaica in the past six days - 72-34 in Nelson and 61-38 in Palmerton North - but both Grant and Watson agree the world No.4 are still a dangerous opponent.

"They're definitely a lot more clinical - they looked after the ball, and I thought they fed their players really well," Watson said.

"Their precision with their passing, their speed and their movement - especially the last movement to the ball - was strong, and it worked really well."

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