England and New Zealand finished the series with a high intensity Test match
New Zealand secured a series whitewash with a 62-47 victory over England on Sunday, despite the visiting outfit showing strong resilience in the final Test at Claudelands Arena.
For the third time in the space of a week, the venue in Hamilton was a sell-out, as New Zealand and England brought smiles to fans’ faces with international netball returning to the world stage.
As was the case in the second Test, the Vitality Roses stayed with their opponents in the first half, before a slow start to the third quarter proved to be their undoing.
The Vitality Roses trailed 26-19 after 30 minutes. However after the break, New Zealand put their foot on the gas in both attack and defence and England went off the boil.
In the space of five-and-a-half minutes, New Zealand pressed into a 15-goal lead before England tenaciously pulled them back in with a six-goal run of their own.
As the match concluded, the Roses endeavoured to keep their work rate high but on a home court, the Silver Ferns jumped on every error and converted through for their 62-47 result.
Jess Thirlby held firm with her defensive end, handing starts to Razia Quashie, Fran Williams and Jade Clarke. After Serena Guthrie’s injury, Gabriella Marshall was given the nod at centre. New Zealand mixed things up in mid-court and handed Kelly Jury a start at GK.
New Zealand and England – Starting Line-Ups
|GK – Kelly Jury||GK – Razia Quashie|
|GD – Jane Watson||GD – Fran Williams|
|WD – Karin Burger||WD – Jade Clarke|
|C – Claire Kersten||C – Gabriella Marshall|
|WA – Gina Crampton||WA – Laura Malcolm|
|GA – Ameliaranne Ekenasio||GA – Sophie Drakeford-Lewis|
|GS – Maia Wilson||GS – George Fisher|
Roses’ early resilience
After Wednesday’s positive first half for the Vitality Roses, pre-match head coach Jess Thirlby had asked for the same again and urged her Roses side to keep on pushing on.
However, it was the home team who were able to put the first three goals on the board, thanks in a large part to the excellent work of Kelly Jury at GK.
Jury’s anticipation and long arms caused both Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and George Fisher issues. In attack, New Zealand found the timing they had been looking for, with Claire Kersten’s working well at Centre.
Kelly Jury (L) had a significant impact on the match, finishing with seven gains and three intercepts
The Roses stayed calm though and clawed back from a 4-1 deficit to six goals apiece, with the same number of minutes left in the opening stanza.
The outfits remained locked together before a slight lull from England was pounced on.
The visitors reeled their opponents back in again though, as the feeds into Fisher started to become cleaner and the Roses went into the first pause 12-10 down.
Final Result: New Zealand 62-47 England
|Silver Ferns||Vitality Roses|
Take care of the ball
Kat Ratnapala, acting head coach on the ground in New Zealand, implored England to improve their basics in the second quarter and take care of the ball.
They did so as Razia Quashie and Fran Williams worked relentlessly in defence. The duo forced Maia Wilson to shoot from anywhere, but the Northern Stars’ shooter was up for the challenge, time and time again.
Jury’s continued hard work in defence coupled with a slight hesitation from England allowed the world champions to maintain their edge on the board.
Thirlby, sticking true to development being an objective of this tour, used the latter stages of the first half to introduce Yasmin Parsons for the first time and switch Fisher for Eleanor Cardwell.
The Silver Ferns turn it on
Ameliaranne Ekenasio and her team showed their class at the start of the second half
The world champions had been open about the disappointment they had been feeling with regard to their performances, and they channelled emotion at the start of the second half.
Across the board, the Silver Ferns gain turnovers galore which were converted to goal by the indomitable Wilson, who would finish with 44 goals from 47 attempts, and to start with, England did not have a reply.
However, Vicki Oyesola made her presence felt as the quarter went on and the Roses’ determination brought about their own seven-goal run to close the gap.
New Zealand were much more fluid in attack in the third Test
With both head coaches looking towards the future, the final quarters of the series featured a number of personnel changes and switches.
Sulu Fitzpatrick stretched her legs at GD for the Ferns and Monica Falkner gained her second cap in their shooting circle. Gabriella Marshall returned for England in mid-court and Williams arrived back to finish the series at GD.
Due to not having played competitive netball since March, England’s Roses fell off some passes in the latter stages and produced errors, which were unlikely to have been there had they enjoyed a ‘normal’ season and run-in.
In contrast, the Silver Ferns, who had a full ANZ Premiership season and a series of warm-up matches, were able to maintain their consistency and completed their day at the office with a productive 17-12 final quarter.
Congratulations @SilverFernsNZ 👏 and thank you @NetballNZ for all your efforts in hosting the return of international netball. A return to court in 2020 is an absolute privilege #GlobalNetballFamily https://t.co/U2oc4ScghA
— Fran Connolly (@NetballFran) November 1, 2020
Tamsin Greenway’s verdict
The Silver Ferns took control of that final Test match with a dominant display. It was by no means perfect, as they still made it difficult for themselves at times, but it was much more like the style of play we’re used to seeing from the world champions.
They used the width in the attack, put ball into back space in the circle, and gave England a lot to think about. Jane Watson found her feet at GD and I think that was a lot to do with her partnership with Kelly Jury, who was excellent.
62-47 NZ win as they stamp their authority on this test. Eng hung in there but ferns too strong all over, not always clinical, but moments of brilliance of the team & style we’re used to seeing. Lots of positives for England across the week and stand out performances @SkyNetball
— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) November 1, 2020
Out the front, Karin Burger and Claire Kersten complemented each other and Whitney Souness’ impact was noted again, I get more impressed every time I see her.
For England, it was a step too far and was always going to be difficult without the injured Serena Guthrie.
They hung on in there though and Raz Quashie really kept them in it with key intercepts. However, in the attack-end they needed to be more patient and they got sucked into the off-mark too many times.
Overall, it’s been a key learning journey for England with so many positives to take from it. There were questions coming into this series about the next group of emerging players, and I think they answered them.
My standouts were Fran Williams, Razia Quashie, and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis as well as Gabriella Marshall. Overall, it will have been a great experience for this group and it’s now an opportunity to build for head coach Jess Thirlby.