Roses victorious against the Ferns
A strong performance from the England Roses saw the Commonwealth champions breakaway from the New Zealand Silver Ferns who challenged them in the first half of the match to win 54 -41.
A quick start on home soil saw the Roses get out to a quick 3 – 0 lead before the Silver Ferns found their footing. England shooter Jo Harten returned from injury looking comfortable under the net shooting at 84% throughout the match, with her main shooting partner Helen Housby confidently slotting 25 of her 31 attempts.
Down the other end of the court, Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio both shot above 90%, however despite the accuracy the Ferns struggled to move the ball in at times. The Ferns were slowed transitioning into attack by an English side who were consistently putting pressure over the ball and chasing every loose end. Jade Clarke kept Whitney Souness at bay while Serena Guthrie was also winning her match ups against Samantha Sinclair and Kimiora Poi in centre. Poi was one of two Ferns who made their international debut with Erena Mikaere also hitting the court for New Zealand.
England’s Chelsea Pitman was a machine for the Roses on the circle edge with 34 feeds and 21 goal assists up against a tough competitor in New Zealand’s Laura Langman. Despite England’s fast start New Zealand were able to bounce back and finish the first quarter only a goal behind.
The second quarter saw the two sides trade goal for goal with the Roses managing to stay ahead for the majority of the quarter as New Zealand missed opportunities to get ahead. Casey Kopua and Jane Watson worked well together in defence for New Zealand, however the Roses were starting to find plenty of room in the circle as half time neared. England took a one-goal lead into the second half with New Zealand failing to swing the momentum their way in the second.
Although the quarter started close, the Ferns quickly faded as the Roses found their rhythm and smoothly moved the ball into their goal circle. While England cleaned up their act, errors started to become a headache for the Ferns who had trouble trying to work back the expanding difference in scores. By the end of the third quarter New Zealand fell behind by 10 goals, setting themselves a mammoth task in the final term to try to overcome.
The task proved to be too much for the Ferns as the match went on and New Zealand’s frustration began to show. The Ferns’ defence became sloppy and defender Karin Burger was sent off for two minutes for deliberate contact against Harten after previously receiving a warning from the umpire.
Despite the loss, New Zealand had moments of good play throughout the match, with Kopua’s five gains reflective of her hard work in defence. Folau and Ekenasio’s accuracy in attack was good against the pressure of England’s defensive duo Geva Mentor and Eboni Usuro-Brown.
Although the 13-goal victory went the way of England, the Roses will be looking to improve on their start before taking on South Africa, while New Zealand will be wanting a much better finish against Australia.
ENG STARTING SEVEN
GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Jade Clarke
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor
BENCH: Rachel Dunn, Layla Guscoth, Fran Williams, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Razia Quashie
NZL STARTING SEVEN
GS: Maria Folau
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Samantha Sinclair
WD: Laura Langman
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Jane Watson
BENCH: Gina Crampton, Karin Burger, Kimiora Poi, Erena Mikaere, Maia Wilson