New Zealand were narrowly defeated by a single goal by Australia on Thursday morning, but their hard work in the World Cup to that point was already sufficient to see them through to the semi-final stages.
Goal keeper Jane Watson, like many of her teammates, has had an excellent tournament so far, taking 12 interceptions in five matches so far at the M&S Bank Arena, including three in the game against Australia.
Reflecting on her time in Liverpool so far, the 29-year-old was keen to praise the crowds that have flocked to watch New Zealand’s fixtures.
“It’s awesome! Everybody’s being really friendly. There have been lots of supporters come over from New Zealand so that’s really nice to see. There’s a bit of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand so it’s great to get the crowd involved.”
The noise is all set to increase another notch for the semi-final against England, the team against whom Watson made the first of her 35 Kiwi appearances in 2016, not least because of the home advantage that the Roses will have.
Watson, though, is unconcerned by the prospect of facing the crowd as well as the England team on court.
“To us, it doesn’t really change anything. We’re going to go through and do everything we’ve done well.
“For them, it could mean that the pressure is on a little bit more, but we’re going to do our best. We’ll do our best, we’ll play netball and stick to our structures.
“(Preparations for the tournament have) been happening since August last year. Noels (coach Noeline Taurua) got stuck into us. The Quad Series was massive for us but I think in our few weeks leading up to this has been really important as well.
“We headed to the Sunshine Coast for a training week. We had a training tournament in New Zealand. We played some men, which were outstanding, and then we’ve come here. We’ve been really fortunate in our build-up and that’s set us for a really good tournament.”
With two games of the competition left, starting with the semi-final against England on Saturday, squeezing every last drop out of each player is crucial at this stage.
Watson was pleased with her side’s performance against the Diamonds, despite the defeat, recognising the need to take forward the positives.
“We’re still really happy with our performance (despite the late defeat). First quarter, we really weathered the storm, and then I think from then I think we built each quarter, which was really nice and really pleasing.
“We definitely take the positives. Just to know that we are in it and we’re keeping up is really pleasing. I guess we’re just lucky that wasn’t final, but we need to know when it comes to the final, we need to be nailing that and doing everything we can.
“I think it will be those little ‘one per-cent-ers’ (that will make the biggest difference). Doing all of our basics well and trying to get a little bit closer a little bit earlier, not letting that gap get too far at the start.
“I think we’ve had the same game plan most of the tournament. It’s just about really doing everybody’s job well. We’ll make little tweaks – we’ll talk about it and see where we go from there.”