Analysing England Netball: Mistakes vs. New Zealand and chances vs. Australia
England's performance in the opening two games of the Quad Series can be summed up in one word: mixed.
After a thrilling extra-time victory over South Africa, which mid-courter Jade Clarke believed had a positive psychological impact on the side, they were comprehensively beaten 61-37 by New Zealand on Thursday.
Sports Gazette offers their analysis of why England were dispatched comfortably by the Silver Ferns and their chances against reigning champions and world number one team Australia.
Where did it go wrong for England?
1) The Start
It was a patchy and error-strewn start, particularly for the Roses. They fumbled the ball in the final third to hand possession to the Ferns before they were ruthlessly punished for an avoidable mid-court error. New Zealand were by no means faultless in the opening stages, with England unlucky not to steal the ball from the visitors' opening centre pass, but they settled first and took the game by the scruff of the neck to storm to a 7-2 lead.
2) High Press
New Zealand did what they do best and put their opponents under some serious pressure. This was especially the case in quarter two, when they successfully applied a high press. The Roses really struggled to overcome this and significantly struggled to get the ball into the circle. The Silver Ferns' approach paid dividends as they established a healthy 31-19 lead going into the second half.
3) Link-up Play
England weren't at their best in terms of transitioning and their general link-up play didn't flow as effortlessly as everyone knows it can. This was evident when Chelsea Pitman and Kadeen Corbin weren't on the same wavelength and wasted possession when in a strong attacking position with the ball rolling harmlessly out of play. When facing a team of New Zealand's calibre, allowing the ball to be turned over so easily is criminal. The Silver Ferns also looked a step quicker, one move smarter and a second quicker.
4) Unanswered goals
New Zealand netted nine unanswered second-quarter goals, shutting the Roses out for six and a half minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. England failed to get on the board for a whole six and a half minutes. It's impossible to fault their spirited fight but ultimately, this whitewash proved detrimental and the short spell of utter black and silver domination might even have been the nail in the coffin.
Corbin and Helen Housby recorded shooting success rates of 76 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. They were, however, unlucky with several shots bouncing out of the net instead of dropping in. On the other side, the Silver Ferns excelled in that department with 95 per cent and 86 per cent success rates for Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Maria Tutaia. They oozed confidence, slotting home from all over the circle and also pounced upon and converted several rebounds.
How can they stand a chance against Australia?
1) Missing Players
There were predictions and suggestions post-tournament that now would be as good a time as ever for New Zealand, England and South Africa to pull off upsets against the world number ones. The Diamonds are without several key players - Caitlin Bassett, Nat Medhurst and Madi Robinson are all rested ahead of the Suncorp Super Netball season. This new-look outfit are therefore still getting used to the different combinations on court and can be exploited. World no.2s New Zealand ran them close in their Quad Series opening clash.
2) Natalie Haythornthwaite
Tracey Neville introduced Natalie Haythornthwaite at the start of the third quarter against New Zealand in place of Pitman and the Wasps Netball player injected fresh impetus into the Roses' attack. The super sub was praised post-match by England's most capped netballer, Jade Clarke. It could be time for her to play from the start rather than coming on when the game has pretty much already been put to bed. However, Pitman has been solid on her debut and will be more than fired up for proving a point to, and ultimately getting one over on, Australia - the team she represented when they were crowned world champions in 2011.
England will undoubtedly be given a boost due to their home advantage and having the crowd fully behind them at Wembley. Although it wasn't a sell out in Liverpool, the fans, encouraged by Clarke throwing her hands up to gee them up, roared every Roses' attack and goal. The players were definitely appreciative of this support as it kept them battling right until the end.