The Vitality Roses fell short as they got their Cadbury Netball Series campaign against New Zealand underway with a 58-45 defeat in Hamilton on Wednesday morning.
The clash with the world champions represented England’s first international test since the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in January.
Shannon Saunders got the game underway with the first centre pass and the hosts made the starting advantage count as Ameliaranne Ekenasio scored the first goal of the game.
The visitors showed no nerves early on, however, and quickly responded with their first goal of the series courtesy of Eleanor Cardwell.
With the resumption of the ANZ Premiership and having already played a number of matches as part of the Cadbury Netball Series, the hosts looked sharper in the opening 15 minutes.
Consequently, the Silver Ferns opened up an eight-goal advantage in front of the home crowd after the ten minute mark.
Undeterred, the Vitality Roses started to come into the game more and set to work on reducing the early deficit. After great pressure, a composed finish from Kadeen Corbin proved to be the last goal of the first quarter. 15-10.
Head Coach Jess Thirlby watched on at home due to a positive COVID-19 test but was still able to influence the game alongside Acting Head Coach Kat Ratnapala in Hamilton. They brought on Imogen Allison for her debut and rising star Sophie Drakeford-Lewis.
Despite Cardwell’s best efforts with 90% shot accuracy and a promising combination with Drakeford-Lewis, the New Zealand side began to increase their advantage in the second quarter.
The Vitality Roses were showing promising signs as the first-half came to a close as they began to make more interceptions with Fran Williams making three before the interval.
New Zealand, however, were applying defensive pressure of their own and made it difficult for their opposition to get back into the game. At the end of the first-half, the scoreline read 32-24.
At the break, Gabby Marshall and George Fisher were brought on to make a difference from the substitutes bench.
Williams continued to impress in the third quarter and England began to put a run together. With five minutes to go, Thirlby’s side netted three goals in a row.
The away side made a good push at their hosts in the attacking circle with all four shooters putting in performances when given the chance. At the end of the third quarter, they were shooting at 88%.
The Silver Ferns showed exactly why they are world champions, though, and still managed to pull away before the whistle signalled the end of quarter three. 46-35.
England’s attacking end continued to prove creative during the final 15 minutes of the match and gained plaudits for the way they worked an experienced New Zealand defence.
Penalties proved costly, however, as the visitors conceded 49 penalties to the hosts’ 32 as the game came to a close. Despite promising signs in their first competitive fixture since January, the Vitality Roses fell 58-45.
The Vitality Roses will have a chance at redemption later this week as the Cadbury Netball Series continues. You can watch the remaining two fixtures live on Sky Sports on Friday 30 October and Sunday 1 November.