The Wash-up: Northern Quad Series

WITH the last international series played before the World Cup in July, South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia put their best foot forward in the Northern Quad Series. Along with some top team performances, some players really stamped their authority on the competition.

Though Australia were forced to make a multitude of changes due to injuries to three of their starting seven, the Diamonds were ferocious and showed that they have plenty of depth, with the likes of Jamie Lee Price stepping up in wing defence due to vice-captain Gabi Simpson’s absence. The youngster showed plenty of courage and was not afraid of the contest going in hard to win the loose ball. While in the goal circle the ever-reliable Caitlin Thwaites capitalised on her court time, with captain, Caitlin Bassett out with a broken arm. Thwaites was solid in at goal shooter and paired well with superstar, Gretel Tippett out in goal attack who provided plenty of attacking flair and athleticism. While the combination of speed demon Kelsey Browne and Liz Watson was also impressive to watch with their pin point precision passes and quick hands.

For the Roses, while they were close to claiming the Northern Quad Series title, they fell agonisingly short. The win over Australia will provide them with plenty of confidence going into the World Cup and coach Tracey Neville was not afraid to ring in the changes with the likes of Rachel Dunn making her comeback in at goal shooter. The rotation through wing attack was pivotal in ensuring that the ball got into the circle with ease. Both Chelsea Pitman and Natalie Haythornthwaite were excellent in the position and fed the ball nicely into the circle, opening up space for the shooters. Star goal keeper, Geva Mentor was at her damaging best once again throughout the series thanks to her smothering defence, clean hands and impressive ability to read the ball and impact the play. Layla Guscoth also shone for England and proved her versatility swinging from goal defence to wing defence with ease.

South Africa came out guns blazing and definitely had a point to prove beating the reining Commonwealth gold medallists and taking it to New Zealand. Lenize Potgieter put on a shooting masterclass showing great composure under pressure and more importantly was accurate to post. Her smooth movement and rotations in the circle were hard to stop while up the other end, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni starred as a dynamic duo. Both defenders applied plenty of defensive pressure, attacked the ball and put serious doubt into oppositions mind thanks to their long reach and intimidating game play. The work of Bongi Msomi was also highly impressive credit to her explosive speed, quick hands and general netball smarts. Her clever feeds into the goal circle were pivotal in assisting shooting machine Potgieter who was a clear standout for the Spar Proteas throughout the series.

The Silver Ferns will take plenty of confidence away from this series, though they only claimed the one victory they showed plenty of potential. The return of veteran goal defence Casey Kopua was important for the Ferns as she provided plenty of defensive pressure and experience. The combination of Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Folau was vintage Ferns and will spark great enthusiasm for the World Cup with their class and silky skills. Youngsters such as goal keeper Jane Watson, also stood up and impressed with her defensive play and ability to get hands to ball. New Zealand won a thriller against South Africa and stayed in touch with the Diamonds but at times were unable to capitalise on their good game plan making them a real threat if all falls into place come the World Cup.

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