The Vitality Roses started their second match of the Netball Quad Series, as part of the Vitality Netball International Series, quickly with yesterday’s player of the match Layla Guscoth turning over possession and George Fisher scoring the first and the second goals of the match.
Tiana Metuarau looked to drive to the baseline and cause trouble for the Vitality Roses as Maia Wilson opened the Silver Ferns’ account.
Serena Guthrie and Fisher moved the ball quickly between them with expert precision at the top of the court but the Silver Ferns responded well, exposing space in the Vitality Roses’ circle and opening up Wilson for the shot, who finished clinically.
The score was level at six goals each at the halfway mark of the first quarter with both teams displaying determination to edge the result in their favour but neither able to run away with the score.
Speedy passing by Claire Kersten found Wilson in space and she converted another long-range shot. Guthrie responded by intercepting the ball and using the width of the court to find Fisher, who in turn played the ball into Helen Housby to score with a long-range effort.
The Silver Ferns began to push the scoreline in their favour after a clean shooting display by Maia Wilson.
Geva Mentor popped up with a great aerial intercept to take the ball from the Silver Ferns at the close of the quarter, but the Vitality Roses trailed by six (10-16).
The second quarter began with Eboni Usoro-Brown coming on in place of Mentor.
Housby opened the scoring in the quarter while Usoro-Brown made an immediate impact on the court, quickly taking the ball from the Silver Ferns’ attack.
The Vitality Roses began to look more settled on the ball with great movement between Natalie Metcalf and Beth Cobden.
With Jess Thirlby and Sonia Mkoloma urging their team on from the sideline and thanks to some key interceptions from Guscoth and Usoro-Brown, the Vitality Roses started to cut the deficit, closing the gap in the scoreline back to six goals at the halfway mark of the quarter.
Jade Clarke came on for Cobden with just over four minutes to go until half-time and immediately intercepted the ball from the Silver Ferns’ centre pass with Housby on hand to finish off the move.
Every Vitality Roses pass, intercept and goal was accompanied by roars from the home crowd and they drew level at 25-25 entering half-time.
The second half began with a strong collective press by the Vitality Roses but Wilson managed to find a pocket of space in the circle and opened the scoring.
England hit back instantly through George Fisher though after an excellent high ball by Metcalf and a goal-for-goal few minutes followed.
Kelly Jury’s strong aerial presence made it difficult for Fisher to receive the ball in the circle, while at the other end of the court, Guscoth and Usoro-Brown continued to pile on the pressure and disrupt the rhythm of the Silver Ferns’ attack.
Housby kept her cool to score another long-range effort after receiving the ball from Clarke to edge the score in favour of the Vitality Roses, but again the Silver Ferns responded immediately, efficiently moving the ball into a clinical Metuarau.
With the Vitality Roses’ confidence growing, Guthrie first tipped the ball away from the hands of Gina Crampton and then followed up with another intercept as her teammates rewarded her efforts to head into the break with a three-goal lead (39-36).
As the Silver Ferns battled to get back on level terms, Noeline Taurua looked to the bench and brought on Phoenix Karaka at goal defence then later introduced Sulu Fitzpatrick at goal keeper.
Excellent driving runs by Metcalf opened up space in the middle of the court for Clarke and Guthrie, while Guscoth and Usoro-Brown were relentless in their defensive pressure.
Grace Mweke added to her tally for the Silver Ferns but it wasn’t enough for her team as it finished 49-46 to England.
The result means a big double header for the Vitality Roses against the Origin Diamonds next week - first, in the final round-robin game and then in Wednesday’s Grand Final. Tickets are still available here for both days.
After a true captain’s performance and recording the most intercepts, Guthrie was awarded Vitality Player of the Match.
Vitality Roses starting seven:
Eleanor Cardwell (GS), Helen Housby (GA), Natalie Metcalf (Haythornthwaite) (WA), captain Serena Guthrie (C), Beth Cobden (WD), Layla Guscoth (GD) and Geva Mentor (GK).
Silver Ferns starting seven:
Maia Wilson (GS), Tiana Metuarau (GA), Gina Crampton (WA), Claire Kersten (C), Karin Burger (WD), Kayla Johnson (GD) and Kelly Jury (GK).