In a match that had plenty of momentum swings, physical encounters and players giving it their all it come down to experience and those who stepped up in key moments. The England Roses had sensational second half and took out the win, defeating the Silver Ferns by three goals, 49-46.
Jade Clarke an X-Factor
When the England Roses needed a spark on the court, it was Jade Clarke who took over at the end of the second quarter and settled the team after a tough and brutal first quarter. It was a well-received welcome for the veteran to run out on court as she provided experience and game knowledge which allowed her to pick off some passes with ease. Something that the Roses were missing in the first quarter. Aside from her ability to run up and down the court like she is still 18 (and not 38), her connection with shooters, Helen Housby and George Fisher, was a turning point for the Roses as she delivered pin point passes and made her presence felt throughout the court.
Clarke finished the game not leaving a single ball unturned and with 13 goal assists, 22 feeds, one gain, one intercept and one deflection.
Energy momentum swings
With the Silver Ferns coming out of the blocks and having all the momentum early, Gina Crampton was solid in wing attack and there seemed to be a better dynamic between her and Kersten when feeding into the shooting circle. However, the Ferns struggled to hold onto that momentum after the first quarter as the Roses utilised the home crowd to add to the defensive pressure. With it almost seeming unnormal to have the crowd screaming support for your opponent in 2022, the Ferns became stunned and stagnant in the attacking end and allowed Layla Guscoth and Serena Guthrie to take some easily won intercepts. The Silver Ferns had plenty of opportunity to win the match but once the Roses settled in the second half there was no stopping them from stepping up leading them to a heartily won victory.
Helen Housby on song and back to best
Helen Housby was back to the level we know she can play best. Not only were her shots on point, but her supportive energy radiated through Copperbox Arena and her defensive pressure along the transverse line also caused plenty of headaches for the Silver Ferns as they attempted to bring the ball down the court. Her hands over pressure allowed for multiple turnovers and for the likes of Eboni Usuro-Brown and Jade Clarke to intercept the ball.
Housby’s athleticism and speed were also on show as she easily managed to get around her player and find her shooting partner, George Fisher. Between the two of them, you saw the Silver Ferns defence question their partnership as they tried to figure out how to stop the flow of play. Housby finished the game shooting 24/25 (96%), 14 goal assists, 16 feeds and one deflection but the stats do not show how much work or pressure Housby put in to this game to ensure the win.
What to look forward to!
The New Zealand Silver Ferns will look to build on the positives when they face South Africa, whilst for the England Roses, they will set up for a blockbuster match against the Origin Diamonds.