Vitality Roses preview World Cup semi-final clash with New Zealand

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The Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool is rapidly reaching its conclusion as we enter the business end of the tournament with placings and medals to fight for.

The Vitality Roses clinched top spot in Group G with a sublime win over South Africa to set up an enticing semi-final meeting with Group F runners-up New Zealand.

Captain Serena Guthrie was immense against the SPAR Proteas and, ahead of Saturday’s mouthwatering encounter with the four-time Vitality Netball World Cup champions, she explained how her team will approach the next challenge.

She said: “I definitely think we’re getting to where we want to be, we’ve improved game on game in different ways in each area of the court so I think for us now it’s about having a look and tweaking again for Saturday.

“New Zealand have a lot of experience throughout the whole court but so have we. I think it’s going to be a great battle, we’ll go back now and look at the video of Thursday’s game against the Aussies and see what we can come up with.”

Guthrie alluded to the experienced members of her squad and no one has more miles on the clock than the Vitality Roses’ most-capped player Jade Clarke.

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She also stressed the need for the team to continue making improvements: “It’s not perfect but you don’t want to peak too soon, either. We’ve still got a lot to work on so we’ll look at that. There are still times where we could just let the ball go and just have a bit more flow through court. There’s always more ball to get in defence but we’re in a good place.

“We’re one player down with Layla [Guscoth] now so I think everyone has been a really good option and we’ve shown Tracey [Neville] throughout the tournament that we’ve got really good combinations. That decision making is down to Tracey and all you can do is do your job when you get on court.”

She added: “The people that came on did an amazing job. Both Nats [Panagarry and Haythornthwaite] and Rachel [Dunn] came on to inject some energy so we’re really confident that we’ve got those changes spot on whenever we need them.”

Clarke made her international debut against New Zealand in 2003 and is anticipating a tough game at the weekend: “We’re expecting an in-form team. They’ve got amazing players like Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Folau; they’ve been there and done it all before.

“We’re expecting to meet one of the best teams in the world that are in form and are raring to go. They’ve got a point to prove, we’ve got a point to prove so it’s just going to be an amazing game in front of our home crowd.”

After a disappointing performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and slipping to fourth in the INF World Rankings, the Silver Ferns’ gold medal prospects at this Vitality Netball World Cup was questioned by some. However, an exceptional display against Australia – where they were dramatically edged out 50-49 – reminded their competitors that they are still an incredible team.

And speaking to the official Silver Ferns website, Head Coach Noeline Taurua offered her assessment of England: “Being the gold medallists from the last Commonwealth Games and being at home, I expect a torrid encounter against England. It will be an intense match because a shot at the title is on the line.”

She continued: “With Geva Mentor spearheading a strong defence end, she is a very mature, very experienced and a game-breaker. The attacking end is also very solid and they have been able to consolidate that over several years.

“Jo Harten and Helen Housby are high percentage shooters, they’re very smart and don’t get caught up in the physical stuff. They do a good job of putting doubt in their opponent’s heads by being quite creative and street smart by bringing drama to that end of the court and are well-marshalled by Chelsea Pitman.”

Make sure you’re following England Netball on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for the latest news and updates throughout the Vitality Netball World Cup.

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