By Roger Childs

The Silver Ferns won the first test comfortably 48-42 on Tuesday evening and fans probably expected more of the same on Wednesday. But with adductor injuries to impressive newcomer goal attack Tiana Metuarau, and captain Gina Crampton, coach Noeline Taurua had fewer choices for the second test. All went well until half time where the Ferns had a three goal lead. but then things fell apart.

Replacements let the side down

Taurua experimented with some new combinations in the second half and things backfired. Grace Mweke, who had had a great season for Northern Mystics, replaced Te Paea Selby- Rickit at goal shoot and she had a nervous start. She took her early shots too quickly and two of her first three goal attempts were muffed. So the lead was gone, and the England Roses seized the initiative. At their end the outstanding goal shoot George Fisher ultimately netted 45 out of 47 and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis put a perfect nine shots through the hoop.

Some of Taurua other substitutes didn’t live up to expectation either. The goal defending was poor and whereas the New Zealand shooters were constantly harassed under their net the English were sometimes unattended at their end.

In mid field the Silver Ferns also went to pieces and gave up numerous turnovers and a couple of times threw the ball to no-one. The Roses were on fire in the final quarter and impressed with their speed around the court and their athleticism. In the fourth quarter the Ferns looked demoralized and became panicky. On one occasion a long pass was fired in the direction of the goal and no-one was there to take it.

The Roses maintained their momentum, made few errors and scored an amazing 10 goals more than the Silver Ferns in that final 15 minute to win decisively 55-45.

Improved performance

The home team will be hurting from Wednesday and will come our firing tonight. The players know that there were far too many turnovers and wild passes, and that they will need to tighten up their game especially on defence around the goal.  Noeleen Taurua is a very experienced and successful coach and will be playing her A Team tonight. 

She’ll be hoping that Gina Crampton will have recovered from injury to provide some stability in mid field, and that the shooting star from the first test Tina Metuarau is also available. It would also be logical to have the tall Selby-Rickit as one of her shooters or at least ready to come on as first reserve.

The Roses will be keen to win a rare series over the Silver Ferns. There is everything to play for, and the prize is the coveted Taini Jamison Trophy. An entertaining game is guaranteed tonight in Christchurch.