Silver Ferns 54
Maybe it’s a good thing England didn’t send their top team down to New Zealand for their series against the Silver Ferns.
In the lead-up to the Taini Jamison Trophy series, the narrative had been around the inexperience in the England squad. Both Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua and Netball New Zealand chief executive Jenny Wylie voiced their disappointment in the Roses choosing to effectively send a B team to contest the series, with their World Cup players afforded some downtime.
That team were too much for the Silver Ferns in Christchurch, holding off a desperate comeback effort from the hosts to claim a 55-54 win.
The Ferns were left chasing the game after a terrible second quarter in which England outscored them by seven goals, which included a 10-minute span in which the visitors went on a 16-6 run.
They will have plenty to reflect on ahead of the second match of the series in Porirua on Wednesday.
“I really think we did it to ourselves. The energy we brought in that last quarter was 100 per cent the energy we needed to bring from the start, so I’m not sure why that was missing,” Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio told Sky Sport after the match.
“We’ve got more to give, we’ve got to bring it for this next game, but we just can’t put ourselves in this position.
“I think we sold ourselves short. I imagine training’s going to be a good one when we get to Wellington, which is all good. We’ve done that to ourselves.”
It was a decent enough start for the New Zealand team as they came out of the blocks firing, while the English shooters looked shaky beneath the hoop; rookie shooter Sasha Glasgow missing three of her first six attempts of the game.
But after the Silver Ferns ran up an early four-goal lead and looked very much like a team that should win, England found their bearings and started to put things together as they moved the ball with pace and confidence.
The Ferns held a one-point lead ahead of the second period, and again started hot before England fought back.
Despite her shaky start, the finishing of Glasgow became a massive key to the English win as she scored all 14 attempts in the second quarter. Glasgow finished the night as player of the game, not missing a shot after the first quarter.
The English were all over the Kiwis in the quarter; the host, on the other hand, looked like a team plucked out of obscurity and thrown together on the court, with several passes missing the mark and handing the English side extra possessions, while the English defenders were doing a great job of putting pressure on the Silver Ferns’ attack.
Trailing by six at the halftime break, the Silver Ferns needed something to change, and Taurua rotated her personnel in the hopes of sparking a comeback.
The two sides went blow for blow in a third quarter that ended at 14 goals apiece, before the hosts finally started to chip away at the scoreboard in the final stanza.
However, just as they had been an issue throughout the contest, turnovers hindered the Silver Ferns’ chances of stealing the win; a five-goal turnaround in the final period not enough to get the job done.
1Q: 13-12. HT: 23-29. 3Q: 37-43.
Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.