Comment & Analysis
World champions New Zealand braved a spirited blowback from England Roses to record a win of 48-42 in the opening game of the tree-match series in the Christchurch Arena.
Jess Thirlby’s side got a 3-0 series loss against New Zealand in October 2020 – their last competitive meeting against international opposition – although they produced a fight display against An new-look Silver Ferns side.
Gina Crampton captain New Zealand for the very first time, while 20-year-old Tiana Metuarau – de daughter of former Silver Ferns coach and captain Wai Taumaunu – met star on her international debut at GA.
The hosts seemed ready to complete a resounding victory after setting an eight-goal kiss halfway through the second quarter, but the Vitality Roses fought back magnificent in their bid to claim one first win over New Zealand since 2018.
Well, that was interesting. England is chasing the whole game. Last changes for NZ were under pressure key. Scary never really got a grip with the final enter and finish up being costly. Still loading of positives for both sides. Bring on game 2 @SkyNetball
— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) September 20, 2021
They wiped out New Zealand’s attack threat for great periods, and Thirlby will have been supported by the performance of George Fisher – who was instrumental in England is impressive second half display, have seemed in the ANZ Premiership last season.
However, the winners of the 2018 Commonwealth Games were: left to lament their debauchery in possession, as New Zealand showed their class in the final stages to draw first blood in the battle for the Taini Jamison trophy.
The Silver Ferns had a meager 12-11 advantage after an intriguing opening quarter. The roses twice recovered from two-goal level deficits, with the experienced duo of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth met in the lead role on their international returns.
However, a late turnover from the hosts gave them the initiative, and they stretched their lead until 23-15 halfway quarter two, if the formidable defensive trio of Kelly Jury, Karin Burger and Maddy Gordon suppressed the attacking threat from the Roses.
New Zealand vs England Roses – Starting Lineups
|Kelly Jury (GK)||Geva mentor (GK)|
|Karin Burger (GD)||Layla Guscoth (GD)|
|Maddy Gordon (WD)||Beth Cobden (WD)|
|Sam Winders (C)||Serena Guthrie (C)|
|Gina Crampton (WA)||Laura Malcom (WA)|
|Tiana Metuarau (GA)||Sophie Drakeford Lewis (GA)|
|Maia Wilson (GS)||Ellie Cardwell (GS)|
In the attack end player of the match Metuarau was a revelation – converting 17 of her 19 attempts under the post, but the introduction of Fisher led to a backlash from the Roses.
Thirlby’s side coiled off three goals without reply in the final stages of quarter two, aided by interceptions from captain Serena Guthrie and the outstanding Laura Malcolm, to reduce the deficit to 26-21 halfway through.
The Roses continue their revival in an absorbing third quarter; the combination of Fisher and Cardwell supplied England with more fluency in the offensive end, while they stayed force mistakes from New Zealand in possession to narrow the deficit to 37-33.
Fisher’s influence in the firing circle was unmistakable, although Imogen Allison also provided the roses with an injection of energy courtesy of her excellent cameo and the Roses’ disciplined structure saw them restore parity early at 38-38 in the fourth quarter, while they threatened complete a remarkable comeback.
The depth within the team of the Silver Ferns, however, paid off. Sulu Fitzpatrick and Claire Kersten were introduced by New Zealand head coach Noeline Taurus in the second half, and Karin Burger produced two crucial defensive turnover as the world champions pulled away in the closing phases.
Watch live coverage on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube channel of England’s series in New Zealand as Jess Thirlby’s squad continues met the preparations for the defense of their Commonwealth Games gold medal in Birmingham in 2022
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