Netball Quad Series: Round Two Alternative Review
Round Two stuck to the form book as both the world No. 1 and No. 2 won their respective games.
Sports Gazette delivers its alternative round-up and review on South Africa vs. Australia and England vs. New Zealand.
South Africa 46-62 Australia
#SevenWordReview: Two wins from two for dazzling Diamonds
Australia flew out the traps as they netted five unanswered goals with Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel Tippett almost flawless in the circle.
The Proteas clawed their way back into the game, thanks to some sharp shooting from Lenize Potgieter, and closed the gap to five goals just minutes into the second, but the Aussies accelerated at the end of the half to establish an 11-goal advantage.
Unlike in South Africa’s opening game, there was to be no comeback. Instead, Thwaites, who netted her 500th international goal, went from strength to strength and impressed with her long-range shooting.
Her shooting partner Tippett, delivered a personal best international shooting performance of 20 goals – more than double her previous personal best.
It was game over for the Proteas when their goalkeeper was handed a two-minute suspension and the Diamonds continued their unbeaten record in the Quad Series.
Despite the loss, it was South Africa's closest game with Australia since their first meeting back in 1967.
England 37-61 New Zealand
#SevenWordReview: Silver Ferns strike early to down Roses
They say slow and steady wins the race, but that certainly wasn't the case in Liverpool as England let New Zealand stormed into the lead.
After early misses, Kadeen Corbin and Helen Housby got into their groove and pulled the Roses back from 6-12 to 10-12.
But New Zealand were one step quicker, one step sharper and transitioning with ease.
Goal attack Maria Tutaia and goal shooter Bailey Mes were on fire, shooting - and scoring - from all areas of the circle.
The experienced England defensive pairing of Ama Agbeze and Geva Mentor, who tried to physically impose themselves on their opponents, couldn't keep the Silver Ferns at bay despite some strong intercepts.
Comebacks can and do happen as South Africa proved against England on Sunday when they recovered from an 11-goal deficit.
However, after New Zealand netted nine unanswered second-quarter goals, shutting the Roses out for six and a half minutes, the possibility of an England win to set up a Quad Series decider against Australia on Sunday slipped out of reach.
At least this whitewash didn't happen at the start of the game as the home fans were asked to #RiseForTheRoses and not sit down until Corbin or Housby scored and they would have been waiting a long time!
Mes was forced off just before half-time as she was "getting battered and bruised under the post" as Tutaia remarked afterwards, but her replacement Te Paea Selby-Rickit slipped seamlessly into the side.
New Zealand's high press left England struggling to get the ball into the circle and gave the world No. 2 a healthy 31-19 lead going into the second half.
Tracey Neville introduced Natalie Haythornthwaite at the start of the third quarter in place of Chelsea Pitman and the Wasps Netball player injected fresh impetus into the Roses' attack.
England wing defence Beth Cobden made several fine interceptions to turnover and get attacks rolling but both Corbin and Housby saw shots bounce out of the net.
The Silver Ferns found another gear in the final 15 minutes, stretching clear of the battling Roses.
Best Twitter reactions
Priorities sorted - it's a pretty decent combination getting to not only take a break from revision but it coinciding with being able to watch England play!
One word says it all - netball fans and pundits all over the world are fast running out of adjectives to describe Maria Tutaia as she is quite simply a class above!
The action now moves to London for the final round of matches as England play Australia and New Zealand face South Africa.
Stay tuned to Sports Gazette (@SportsGazette) for all the build-up, live action and reaction!