Inspirational Silver Ferns skipper Casey Kopua well and truly shattered her Allphones Arena hoodoo in leading New Zealand to a 52-47 win over Australia at the netball World Cup in Sydney.
Last time the Kiwis played at the Olympic Park venue, 10 months ago in the Constellation Cup, they slumped to a 13-goal loss as Kopua was stretchered off the court with a ruptured patella tendon.
Surgery, rest and carefully managed rehab delayed Kopua’s return to the trans-Tasman league until late May, and while the 93-Test veteran has improved with every game since, she hadn’t looked quite at her best.
There was no doubting her fitness or commitment, but her usually impeccable timing on hunting the intercept was missing.
However, Kopua returned to her best with a vengeance in leading the new-look Silver Ferns to an upset win over the defending champions in Sunday’s pool match.
She led from the front, picking up two clean intercepts and five deflections while conceding just five contacts over 60 minutes.
Kopua said afterwards that her sub-par performance in Saturday’s 74-38 win over Trinidad and Tobago had provided extra motivation for New Zealand’s pool clash against Australia.
“Yesterday was not a great day at the office for myself, and also I’ve had nine months to get back and have that battle against Australia.
“My biggest thing today was just to play, and do my job well, and everybody else needed to the same thing.”
The Silver Ferns broke a nine-game losing streak to Australia in grafting the win on Sunday, and Kopua said it was particularly enjoyable to see her team deliver on the potential they’d promised for some time.
“It was a pleasure to watch from my end down to the other end, just seeing the composure and hard work the girls were putting in.”