Favourites flex their muscles in Group B openers
THE opening pair of Group B games did not throw up many surprises, as England and New Zealand flexed their muscles and recorded easy first up wins against Trinidad and Tobago and Northern Ireland respectively.
ENGLAND 15 | 22 | 20 | 17 (74)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 6 | 3 | 4 | 9 (22)
Everything is rosy in the English camp right now, after they got their Commonwealth Games defence off to a great start by defeating Trinidad & Tobago 74-22.
The Calypso Girls actually matched it with the English for the first couple of minutes in the opening term, but then the English girls really got going, and had stretched things out to a nine goal margin at the first break. Starting Roses shooters Helen Housby and Jo Harten were working well together, and once the English put their foot down there was no looking back.
The fact that the English were so far ahead in the second half meant that they were able to try out some new combos, with Eleanor Cardwell getting a run alongside Housby in the ring, and the likes of Geva Mentor getting a break and a chance to enjoy the spectacle from the sidelines as the entire 10 got a run at some point in the game.
The Calypso Girls were never able to score more than nine goals in a quarter, as they never got a sniff in it. It was not just on the scoreboard where the Roses dominated. They recorded 10 interceptions to three and 23 deflections to just 11. Not only did the bulk of the Roses’ goals come from Cardwell, but she was also the most accurate shooter, not missing a single attempt.
The shooters for the Roses were well fed by Natalie Metcalf (32 feeds, 19 assists), Laura Malcolm (24 feeds, 12 assists) and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (16 feeds, 12 assists) Although they kept changing their shooting pair, Trinidad & Tobago should have stuck with starting pair Joelisa Cooper and Afeisha Noel, with all the goals coming from those two. Cooper also did a lot of the feeding into the circle alongside Shantel Seemungal.
NEW ZEALAND 18 | 15 | 24 | 22 (79)
NORTHERN IRELAND 4 | 7 | 5 | 4 (20)
Reigning World Cup champions New Zealand also got its Commonwealth Games campaign off to the perfect start, downing Northern Ireland 79 to 20.
It was clear from the get-go that New Zealand meant business, and with a 14-goal lead at the first break, it gave the Silver Ferns the flexibility to start experimenting with different combinations.
Five of the starting seven Silver Ferns got subbed off at quarter time, and although the second quarter saw New Zealand’s lowest quarterly score for the game and Northern Ireland’s highest, it did not matter as the Warriors really were never in the game.
As the Warriors kept trying different combinations to try and stem the bleeding, the Silver Ferns kept trying different combinations because they were so far ahead they had the freedom to do so without worrying about the scoreboard ramifications.
In the end the Northern Irish could only score a single figure number of goals per quarter as the Silver Ferns flexed their muscles and recorded the easy win. It was also clear who was on top in other departments too, not just the scoreboard. The Silver Ferns had double the number of intercepts the Northern Irish did, and they had six more deflections too.
Silver Ferns’ fans will have been pleased to see that the disastrous shooting percentages from the Cadbury Series are a thing of the past, with all except Bailey Mes shooting at above 90 per cent. Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders and Whitney Souness all did a power of work in midcourt and made sure that the shooters had plenty of opportunities. Kelly Jury also finished with six gains.
Meanwhile for Northern Ireland, not only did they not score much but they were inaccurate too, with the highest figure being Emma Magee’s 60 per cent. Michelle Drayne and Caroline O’Hanlon worked hard in midcourt, but just could not provide the opportunities the Silver Ferns’ midcourters could.
Neither England or New Zealand have long to wait until their back out on court, both in action on the second day of the netball action as they take on Malawi and Uganda respectively.