The New Zealand Silver Ferns hosted the first international netball game since the beginning of January against the England Roses for a three match Test series. Although England put up a great fight against the World Champions, they fell short loosing 58-45.
Despite amazing interceptions from Serina Guthrie and movement of Elinor Cardwell in the D, England’s defeat was down to multiple mistakes and New Zealand’s indestructible duo Sulu Fitzpatrick and Jane Watson.
With Roses’ manager, Jess Thirlby, remaining in the UK after coming down positive with coronavirus the Roses had a tough battle ahead of them.
New Zealand’s defence in England’s attacking third
New Zealand’s Watson drove out the D and held off Serena Guthrie on the outside edge, she then proceeded to drive back into the D while Saunders came to the defence. Guthrie under pressure from Saunders forced a high ball to Corbin however the hands of Fitzpatrick came in the way of the play. Despite Crampton being open and available for the swing and pop of the ball straight to Corbin who was waiting comfortably under the post. Guthrie had made the decision otherwise to pass the ball directly to Corbin who was held off by Fitzpatrick.
Many balls were forced in by England throughout the game due to the immense pressure from New Zealand’s defence, which allowed many turnovers for the Ferns as the shear mistakes from the Roses made the Silver Ferns defence too comfortable in the D.
With the few cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, the Silver Ferns have had plenty of time to rehearse their defence and which they used to apply pressure to the Roses, a team who have had two weeks to prepare for the series together under strict coronavirus social distancing restrictions.
England’s defence against the Ferns
During the second quarter the Silver Ferns really started to pull away. England’s man to man marking started to crumble and the Silver Ferns attack of Sam Winders driving down the right side of the D much awaited by Maia Wilson under the post. England had lacked to keep up with the Ferns and the easy break of Winders from the centre circle and a pre-planned spot from Wilson discussed meant England had no chance of defending the ball. By this point the silver ferns had taken the lead by 28-20 against the Roses.
With two more tests in this three match Test series, the England Roses have a difficult journey ahead of them to beat the Ferns, but with the more experienced players on the pitch such as Serena Guthrie playing her 100th cap for the Roses on Friday and some young fresh players for the team they have every chance to come back over the next few days to beat the champs.