Netball Quad Series: Jade Clarke looking forward to clash with Australia
England face world number ones Australia in London on Sunday as they look to spring an upset and end the Quad Series on a high.
After an extra-time 60-55 victory over South Africa, the Roses were beaten 61-37 by New Zealand as the competition came to home soil for the first time.
England’s most capped netballer, Jade Clarke, spoke exclusively to Sports Gazette about her expectations for the clash with the Diamonds.
She said: "We embrace a challenge. We always want to test ourselves against the world no.1s.
"It’ll be a welcome change – the different tactics again – so we’ve got to think on our feet and that’s how it’s going to be at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup so it’s really good practice for us."
One area in which England will certainly have to improve is the start – and getting off to a good one.
New Zealand stormed into the lead on Thursday and Australia also regularly fly out of the traps, as shown by their five unanswered goals scored in the opening few minutes of their game against South Africa.
Reflecting on the Roses’ performance against the Silver Ferns, Clarke said: "It was really up and down as the score line reflected.
"We had a terrible start in the first and the second but proud of the way we fought back in those quarters.
"It was really frustrating and I feel like the score line should have been a lot closer.
"We showed patches of what we could do but we just weren’t disciplined enough."
The mid-courter believes that this ill-discipline and making simple, avoidable technical errors contributed to the Roses’ downfall.
Nothing should be taken away from the quality of New Zealand’s performance though.
She said: "I think (in the second quarter) they put more of a zone on and it threw us.
"You’ve really got to just be prepared to pass and cut and drive and keep the ball flat.
"I think we played into their hands and they showed what a classy side they are."
The Roses did show moments of brilliance – slick interplay, fine interceptions and transitioning, as well as sharp shooting – but their performance lacked consistency.
Clarke admitted that head coach Tracey Neville had spoken a lot afterwards about sticking to their game plan.
This will most certainly have to be the case on Sunday as Australia at their best can, and will, be absolutely ruthless.
The game between England and Australia will be broadcast on both BBC2 and Sky Sports Mix.
Stay tuned to Sports Gazette (@SportsGazette) for all the build-up, live action and reaction!