Roses send shock through New Zealand

THE England Roses ‘B-Team’ has sent shock waves through New Zealand netball getting a nail-biting 54 – 55 goal win over the Silver Ferns in the opening game for the Taini Jamison Trophy series.

England entered this test series one of the most internationally inexperienced teams in history with 50 caps compared to New Zealand’s 416, but that did not look like it out on court as the Roses looked like they had played together in years, making use of their five-week training camp.

It was a shaky start for both goal shooters down each end going zero from two to start the game. This forced both captains in the Silver Ferns Ameliaranne Ekenasio (39 goals) and the Roses Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (15 goals, 10 goal assists) to step up to the plate and shoot while being the playmakers for their sides.

The New Zealand bench were silent at the first break as the Silver Ferns led by one, 13-12, maybe expecting more of a landslide of a lead.  The Roses youngsters rose to the occasion, highlighting how much talent they have in the super league featuring some Australian talent that some at home doubted.

England’s defence started highly penalised with co-captain and debutant Halimat Adio (24 penalties, six deflections, three gains) being on the other end of the whistler nine times in the first term alone. She adjusted her game in the second and helped the Roses overrun the Silver Ferns and flip their one-goal deficit into a six-goal advantage at half time thanks to a 17-10 second quarter.

The combination between Drakeford-Lewis, England’s most capped player in the squad, and debutant Sasha Glasgow shattered the Kiwi defence line that forced an entire shift in the Silver Ferns defence. Glasgow earned herself player of the match honours slotting 38 goals alongside five rebounds as she looked as comfortable as ever in the red dress. She bounced back from a shaky start and was solid for the remainder of the match as her long range shooting skills coming in handy while shooting at 100 percent in three out of four quarters.

Drakeford-Lewis demolished the Ferns defence as her ball speed and angled drives broke their zone set up. She knew the perfect times when to drive and at what angle she would do it at to try and minimise opportunities for the Kiwi defenders to get a hand to ball.

England left the court at half time with a smile from cheek to cheek having multiple three and four goal runs to extend their lead from six at half-time to the highest of 10 midway through the quarter.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (11 feeds, five goal assists) was the spark that New Zealand needed in attack utilising her preliminary movements and speed to burn instead of bodying up on a player and driving off from there, a problem the Ferns had during their World Cup campaign.

New Zealand just couldn’t win any back ball until the last quarter thanks to the chaotic Tactix defensive circle in Karin Burger and Jane Watson. The inexperience of the Roses really showed, allowing the Silver Ferns to reduce their deficit and get right back into the contest. A late three goal flurry by the Ferns  got them right back into the contest, but it was too little too late as England took the win, giving New Zealand time to reflect heavily on their performance.

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