England face world number twos New Zealand on Wednesday (00:00 Tues pm/Weds am) in a battle to see who will top Pool B at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Roses are already guaranteed a place in the semi-finals after winning all four of their opening matches against Scotland, Malawi, Uganda and Wales.
If they win, they’ll finish top of Pool B. If New Zealand win, the teams will be tied for points and it’ll come down to goal average.
The Silver Ferns have a strong record at the Commonwealth Games having won gold in 2006 and 2010 and silver in the remaining three Games since netball became part of the multi-sport event in 1998.
Nonetheless, the Silver Ferns suffered a shock defeat to world number sixs Malawi on Sunday. This follows a mixed spell on the international scene in which the Silver Ferns have only won five of their past 14 matches since October.
England most recently beat New Zealand at the Quad Series in London in January. The 64-57 victory – which took the game into extra time – brilliantly showcased the strength and depth in the Roses camp.
Tracey Neville’s side are looking strong and dominant with solid performances in the Games so far. In three out of the four matches, every player has taken to the court demonstrating the depth and versatility of the Roses who are looking to make history on the Gold Coast.
Attacker Natalie Haythornthwaite said: ‘You can never underestimate New Zealand – they’re second in the world for a reason. They’re an incredible side and they’ve got so much strength there.
‘The last few times England have played New Zealand, it’s gone both ways – they’ve won a few, we’ve won a few so it’s all to play for really.
‘We’ll want to finish top – we want to keep going and keep doing what we’ve been doing in the last few matches so it’s important we go away now and do all the prep work and make sure we’re ready to go on Wednesday.’
England’s most capped player Jade Clarke echoed this sense of not taking anything for granted: ‘We’ve played New Zealand a lot this international season – we know each other’s games inside out so it’s going to be about who performs under pressure on the day.
‘We know they’re really going to come out firing after the loss on Sunday as they’ll be hurting from that – and you don’t want to meet a team after a loss because they’ll play twice as good. It’s going to be a great battle.’
New Zealand have since played against Scotland on Tuesday who they beat 60-29.
Defender Jodie Gibson emphasised that during Tuesday’s rest day, England will be focusing on their own game plan: ‘Our process is to focus on ourselves, look at our plan and execute it. It’s going to be exactly the same for New Zealand.
‘They’re going to come back fighting after losing to Malawi but we still haven’t put out a consistent 60 minute performance so we need to go away, look at ourselves and look at patches of the game where we’re inconsistent and try and rectify our mistakes and take it to New Zealand – and hopefully finish strong and undefeated in our group.’
The focus in the Roses camp is palpable – they are united, committed, resilient and driven.
See the current standings here.