Silver Ferns lose Netball Quad Series opener in extra time thriller
In a game which had a bit of everything, the Silver Ferns dropped their Netball Quad Series opener to an experienced England Roses 64-57 in an extra time thriller in London this morning.
With the lead changing hands several times throughout, both teams had their chances to wrap up the match in a frantic final quarter but couldn’t nail it, leaving the scores tied 49-all at the end of regular time.
The two seven-minute halves of extra time played into England’s hands, the Roses growing in confidence on the back of a willing and vocal home team to repeat their win of the last Netball Quad Series against the Silver Ferns.
Playing in their sixth extra time decider, the Silver Ferns struggled to adapt to England’s relentless pressure in the run to the wire, the experience and decisive edge in possession getting the home team over the line.
After missing the Constellation Cup series, the recalled Grace Kara (Rasmussen) was named at wing attack in the starting seven for her 50th test appearance while Samantha Sinclair was named at centre.
The Silver Ferns overcame a strong early challenge to get the better of England through the first term with shooters Maria Folau (nee Tutaia) and Bailey Mes not missing a beat to push the visitors out to a 16-12 lead at the first break.
The roles were reversed on the resumption, England finding improved penetration on attack to push into the lead. Livewire centre Serena Guthrie and veteran defender Geva Mentor were instrumental in keeping the home team on the front foot.
Shoring up on defence, a late flurry helped the Silver Ferns narrow the deficit to leave England with a 29-28 lead at the main break.
Shannon Francois replaced Kara for the second half as the Silver Ferns broke free of England’s forceful presence.
Enjoying a greater volume on the back of slick through-court play, Mes came into her own, sharing the load with an impressive Folau under the hoop while the defensive exploits of captain Katrina Grant and Temalisi Fakahokotau kept England’s dangerous shooters in check.
From the custodian’s position of goalkeeper, the powerful and athletic Fakahokotau was in the thick of action, forcing turnover ball as the New Zealanders turned the tables in stretching out to a 43-37 lead at the three quarter break.
After the Australian Diamonds narrow 54-50 win over the SPAR Proteas in the opening match, the Netball Quad Series is shaping as another closely contested tournament. The Silver Ferns now head to South Africa where they will play the home team on Friday morning (NZ time).