Netball: A day everything clicked

By Julie Ash

New Zealand under-21 captain Laura Langman says her side's success in the World Youth Cup highlights the depth of talent in the country.

New Zealand beat England 53-39 to win the 10-day tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday.

The victory comes two years after the Silver Ferns clinched the world title in Jamaica.

After edging out arch rivals Australia 52-51 in the semifinals, the New Zealanders had the final sewn up in the first quarter after storming out to a 13-6 lead.

They extended their lead to 26-17 at halftime and 39-27 at the three-quarters.

"We just had an absolute ripper of a start," Langman said. "The girls came out firing, the warm-up was great and everyone was in tune. It was just one of those days where everything clicked."

New Zealand made the same changes as they did in their match against Australia, introducing Wendy Telfer into wing defence, and moving Langman to centre and Liana Barrett-Chase to wing attack at halftime.

Langman believed the ability to make seamless changes was the key to their success.

"We were a complete team of 12. We didn't have just a starting seven, we had so many options off that," she said. "I think it shows once again the strong depth that New Zealand have at international level. I think it is really exciting we have got some great young guns coming through, which provides great depth for New Zealand."

The New Zealanders were the favourites going into the tournament. However, unlike at senior level, little separates the top four teams - New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica and England - at under-21 level.

"England deserved to be there and they showed that in the semifinal match against Jamaica," Langman said.

"We knew if we made it through to the final, no matter who we played, it would be tough. So it is very good to be able to come out on top.

"It was intense. We played for each other and everyone back home. As a captain you can't ask for anything more and I am so proud to have been given the opportunity to lead them. We are just grinning from ear to ear, it is fantastic."

Asked if her side were perhaps a little weary considering it was barely 24 hours since their scrap with Australia, Langman's replied: "Never. Never say tired. I think we did have a few jaded bodies. Our management team and medical team were fantastic and we couldn't have prepared any better than we did."

It was New Zealand's first youth title since 1992.

The three Silver Ferns in the side, Langman, Maria Tutaia and Casey Williams, received special praise from Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken, who was at the sideline.

"Maria was outstanding today," Aitken told Radio Sport.

"The volume of her shots was just superb, and in defence Casey Williams was just incredible.

"World youth champions for four years - unbelievable. It was just a fantastic team effort from some stars in the making and they'll be seriously challenging for the Silver Ferns in the years to come. The state of netball development is very healthy."

Australia finished third and Jamaica fourth.

Road to the final

beat Botswana 54-27
beat Northern Ireland 71-20
beat Antigua and Barbuda 86-20
beat Wales 81-21
beat US 95-10
beat Samoa 67-27
beat Cook Islands 85-20
beat Australia 52-51
beat England 53-39

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