Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Silver Ferns score convincing win over England in Quad Series

Silver Ferns shooter Maria Tutaia was the top-scorer in this morning's big Quad Series win over England. Photo/PHOTOSPORT.
Silver Ferns shooter Maria Tutaia was the top-scorer in this morning's big Quad Series win over England. Photo/PHOTOSPORT.

The Silver Ferns have claimed a comprehensive 24-goal win over England in a strange, see-sawing affair in Liverpool this morning.

After a 57-50 loss to Australia in last weekend's Quad Series opener in Durban, this morning's result will be a solid confidence boost for Janine Southby's side. But despite the impressive scoreline, there were periods of the match where the New Zealand side weren't entirely convincing, with their connections on attack breaking down under pressure at several stages.

When the ball did get into the circle the Fern were deadly accurate, however, with Maria Tutaia top-scoring for the match with 32/36, while Te Paea Selby-Rickit, who was introduced just before halftime, landed 20/21.

The healthy scoreline gave Southby the confidence to make several changes to her line-up, with 11 of her 12-strong side getting a run, including 20-year-old Waikato defender Kelly Jury, who took the court mid-way through the final quarter for her first test cap.

At 1.92m, Jury is the tallest defender to wear the black dress for New Zealand.

The last time the two sides met in the inaugural Quad Series last year, the Silver Ferns were 26-goals better than the Roses.

It looked as though New Zealand were headed for another romp early in the opening spell, as the visitors raced out to a 8-1 lead after five minutes. The Ferns were able to take advantage of a flurry of early turnovers from the English as the new-look attack line of Chelsea Locke, Helen Housby and Kadeen Corbin struggled to find their connection.

But after their confident start, the Ferns lost their way as the quarter wore on with their own connections on attack began to fray.

The service into Bailey Mes and Maria Tutaia in the circle looked slow and laboured, while their through-court transition lacked fluidity.

The sudden swing in confidence resulted in a swing in the scoring as well as England closed the gap to 16-13 at the first break.

Any momentum the Roses' gleaned over the latter stages of the first quarter came to a screaming halt in the second as the Ferns opened the spell with a devastating 11-0 run.

After a fairly quiet start defensively, the New Zealand side noticeably ramped up the pressure in the second period, Katrina Grant particularly influential. The skipper used her speed off the mark and footwork to come up with some impressive clean ball, collecting 3 clean intercepts in the quarter.

The Ferns attack looked more comfortable under South African umpire Theresa Prince, who was a lot tougher on the defensive players than her Australian counterpart.
While she copped more penalties in the second spell, English star Geva Mentor was still able to trouble Mes, who left the court five minutes before halftime. Mes, who may also have been struggling with a back complaint, was replaced by Steel shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

When the inevitable fightback came from England, this time the Ferns did a much better job of maintaining their composure, ensuring they held on to their significant advantage at halftime.

The change of ends brought a much closer third quarter, as the England defence made a much bigger impact down the Australian umpire's end. But the Ferns were still able to match the scoring rate of England to maintain their 12-goal lead heading into the final spell.

The New Zealand side put the foot down in the fourth quarter, as wing attack Gina Crampton, who was introduced at halftime, began to find her feet in the attack end. Crampton's speed through the court and quick interplay with Shannon Francois, Tutaia and Selby-Rickit forced the English defence into chase mode and they struggled to disrupt the Ferns rhythm.

With the scoreline blowing out, New Zealand coach Janine Southby saw the opportunity to introduce Jury for her first cap.

New Zealand will round out their Quad Series campaign against South Africa in London on Monday, while England will take on Australia at the same venue.

The Ferns will then go on to play two tests against Wales.

- NZ Herald

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