The Roger Child Column

Kiwi sport on top of the world

By Roger Childs
 
We like our sports teams and individuals to be winners at the top level, whether it’s netball, rugby, rowing, hockey, shot put, whatever. Over the years we have had world champions in a great variety of sports and the many Olympic and Paralympic gold medals in London showed what our small country can do against the best.
 
The last couple of weeks have seen Kiwis produce three more world class performances: by the Silver Ferns, the All Blacks and teenage golfing sensation Lydia Ko, again!

Beating the Aussies at netball is never easy!

Not too many people knew about the Constellation Cup until recently, probably because we hadn’t won it for seven years! The Australian Diamonds have had a stranglehold on this trophy played between the world’s two netball superpowers, even though the Silver Ferns won the Commonwealth Games gold medals in 2006 and 2010.

But in mid September New Zealand snaffled the trophy, just. The unexpected first test success in Melbourne, meant that winning the Constellation Cup would be a lot easier, as the remaining two tests were at home.

The Ferns played brilliantly in the first half of the Auckland match with shooters van Dyk and Tutaia on fire. With a 12 goal lead the cup looked in the bag.  Enter Caitlin Bassett into the Australian shooting circle. The lead was rapidly eroded and with less than a minute to go and New Zealand ahead by just 50-49, Bassett had an easy shot to force the match into extra time. The ball rolled round the hoop and dropped out. The chance was gone. The Silver Ferns had bagged the Constellation Cup.

Coach Wai Taumaunu was understandably very relieved . “To be honest it wasn’t the ending we wanted. Great to show the composure to hold on for the win, but would have preferred it was a little less nerve-racking towards the end.”

New Zealand demolishes the Pumas

The All Blacks at last showed their best form and demonstrated why they are number one on the planet.  They had struggled against Argentina in Wellington till late in the match. However, over the weekend they scored seven tries, all by the backs, to two from the Pumas in a 54-15 thrashing. The win was built on a strong effort in the forwards with excellent lineout work, solid scrums and speed to the loose ball. With this solid platform the backs played the game at pace with some inventive variation, hard running and well timed passes. There were also some brilliant individual tries from Savea, Nonu and Jane.

The fans knew they could play like this and their patience has been rewarded. Another international trophy goes in the cupboard and the icing on the cake would be a clean sweep for the series in Soweto this weekend. It won’t be easy as the Springboks showed great improvement with their easy win over the hapless Australians.

Another world class performance by Ko

The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship was won by Korea but Lydia Ko was the individual star. Playing in Turkey for the Espirito Santo Trophy Ko shot a four round total of 274 which wasthe best score by 6 shots the lowest score in the history of the tournament.

Now it’s back to school for the 15 year old as the exam season looms. It’s been a fantastic year for arguably New Zealand’s best ever woman’s golfer and on the basis of her many world class performances Ko must be a strong contender for sportswoman of the year.