Sam Winders is such a brilliant defender in the Silver Ferns back three. Alongside Sulu Fitzpatrick and Jane Watson. She is so good reading the situation well. When the Diamonds unable to find their own middle ground. And after the opposition rushed through with these crosses. Sam was able to take advantage of this situation. She might not be the tallest.
But at least she has the physical frame to stop these Diamonds lost chances. And turned them into poor discipline. As well as looking after her back two. With Fitzpatrick & Watson assisted Winders in return. It is not just the defensive aspect that seen the best of these two. Especially during the last two stages of Game 3.
She was also able to use her best physical trait going forward. Such as the long passes. And communicating with her own players from the Ferns attacking unit. So the finishing is there to help successfully cross into the circle. Once the Diamonds unable to stop the Ferns attack. Their front two of Ameliaranne Ekenasio & Maia Wilson looked destructive in the net. In which did haunt these opposition defenders. And applause for Winders for her hard work rate. Just does not stop running to protect/support her Ferns side.
The Ferns were so blessed to have Ameliaranne Ekenasio back. After she was forced to sit out during Game 2 due to an ankle strain. But recovered just in time to come back & do unfinished business at goal assist. The Ferns needed her so badly.And it looked like the home team have stayed closer on the scoreboard.
When Ekenasio benefitted with her troops from the mid court. Such as the crosses & close communication. So the ball comes to her within the circle. She sometimes scores on her own which is good. And gives Maia Wilson a hand with the reading from the opposition defense. And executed with valuable points either way.
She credits the lopsided Diamonds finishing touches. They were initially on the same page as her and Wilson at the start. But the 2nd half saw the Ferns front two put a shift next level. While beginning to falter from the other side. And the Ferns defense spotted it very well to give themselves a reprieve. Before Ekenasio & Wilson put the Ferns ahead by a couple of points in the end. Well Ekenasio is not in pain right now. So the Ferns needed her badly for tomorrow’s decider. If she can maintain the same form as today. Then she will lift the Constellation Cup trophy.
She fired off well to put her Diamonds side ahead by a couple of points ahead. When the Silver Ferns were behind for the majority. And Watson able to find her front two with not much difficulty executing it in the net. Got a great notice there to give the opposition defenders some hesitation.
Then apply the accurate passing strength going forward. She ensured the correct communication is there to cross in the final third. Liz made 22 goal assists & 42 feeds throughout Game 3. In which is more than anyone team combined. Plus 14 centre pass receives by the best of any Diamonds player. Just one short overall behind Ameliaranne Ekenasio & Shannon Saunders of 15. It says a lot about Liz being so dominant here. Having done so well with the Melbourne Vixens at National League level. In which prepared a lot to pass her best Vixens performances in a Diamonds shirt. Where the other six are players that competed with/against her. And it will make her game stronger in the long run.
But today is just not her day. When the Diamonds front two unable to find their hands up within the circle. And trouble the Ferns towards the final few distance to reach the finish line. Plus the poor discipline from her back three. In which would have saw the Diamonds retain this series at the first attempt. They came here to Christchurch as the reigning champions from 16 months back. It does not mean that she and her Diamonds side will give up. There is one more game tomorrow. Just only one overall win mean would mean 1000 words more. If the Diamonds get to escape Christchurch with a 2-2 series tally. And have this prestigious trophy still held up high.