Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Netball: Silver Ferns battle to win over England

Cathrine Latu shoots under pressure from Eboni Beckford-Chambers of England. Photo / Getty Images
Cathrine Latu shoots under pressure from Eboni Beckford-Chambers of England. Photo / Getty Images

It wasn't meant to be this hard.

Granted, the Silver Ferns are trying out new combinations and working players back in to the international game after injury and study lay-offs but they should be able to produce a better effort than their patchy 57-46 win over England in Wellington tonight.

Ten first-quarter turnovers set the tone for New Zealand who openly said coming in to the Quad Series clash that they were using it as a practice run before their upcoming encounter with Australia next week.

England may be the third-ranked side in the world but they simply shouldn't be in the same league as the Ferns who looked rusty feeding the circle and through the mid-court.

Goal shoot Cathrine Latu was again given the opportunity to start ahead of the evergreen Irene van Dyk and gave the ball away three times in the opening 15 minutes and failed to impose herself on the game.

There was a notable lack of chemistry between Latu and mid-courters Laura Langman and the returning Millie Lees, while Jodi Brown, who played the first half at goal attack, also struggled to link with her team-mates.

With her side down by two goals at the half-time break, Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu rung the changes and they gave the home side a much-needed lift as the crowd began to get involved in the game.

Maria Tutaia pulled on the GA bib, van Dyk moved to her favoured goal shoot position, while youngster Kayla Cullen entered the fray at wing defence and veteran Leana de Bruin joined Casey Williams in the defensive circle.

Williams made her first start of the year after being hampered with a knee injury that had limited her to cameo spells during the first three tests of the Quad Series and her impact was evident as she was named player of the match.

Few players bring the ball through court from defence like the 27-year-old skipper can and her direct approach gave the Ferns the impetus they needed in the third quarter.

The third period is commonly referred to as the 'championship quarter' in netball circles and the Ferns eventually showed why they can be a champion team as they won the stanza 17-9 and took control of the game.

England have only beaten New Zealand three times in their previous 79 meetings and although they may have sniffed a rare fourth victory in the first half, the Ferns' dominant third quarter ensured that wouldn't happen.

English defenders Ama Agbeze and Eboni Beckford-Chambers were impressive, particularly in the first two quarters, while goal shoot Jo Harten, who played for the Canterbury Tactix in this year's transtasman competition, shot 34 from 39.

In the end the Silver Ferns eased home in the fourth quarter but Taumaunu wouldn't have been impressed with how sloppy her side was with the ball in the early stages of the game.

New Zealand's next Quad Series encounter is on Sunday when they meet South Africa in Tauranga.

In the earlier game, Australia eased to a comfortable 68-36 victory over South Africa.

New Zealand 57 (Irene van Dyk 14/14, Maria Tutaia 19/22, Cathrine Latu 12/14, Jodi Brown 12/15)
England 46 (Jo Harten 34/39, Pamela Cookey 12/14) 1Q: 12-13 HT: 24-26 3Q: 41-35.


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