NS EXCLUSIVE: “Gutted” England Miss Final Again

NS EXCLUSIVE: “Gutted” England Miss Final Again

By |2019-09-02T22:50:19+10:00July 21st, 2019|Categories: World, World Cup 2019|3 Comments

“I am gutted to be honest. We didn’t start the way we wanted to. We managed to get ourselves back into the competition. But I think we were just woeful in attack all the way through the court. Defensively, we managed to keep the score fairly low, we just didn’t manage to capitalise on the turnovers.”

That was legendary Geva Mentor’s summary of the match, punctuated by hesitancy in all thirds in attack from England.

In an incredibly tight game that will be remembered for decades, the England Roses were unable to repeat their Commonwealth Games march to the final, losing by two goals to New Zealand Silver Ferns. There were small differences between the sides, but it was potentially the intimidation by excellent Kiwi defence, the doubt from the English, or the slight differential in goal shooting accuracy that ground out the win. The closing day will see the host nation battle South Africa for bronze, while the grand finale will once again be an irresistible encounter between Australia and New Zealand.


Langman takes a tough ball under pressure from Clarke. Image May Bailey


The heroics of Jane Watson defined the opening, with two deflections, a rebound, and an intercept allowing the Kiwis to lead 5-0. Umpire Phippard was already demarcating boundaries, giving Casey Kopua a caution for intimidation for waving her arms. New Zealand had much better balance in both attack and defence, allowing all athletes to contribute, while England hadn’t quite found their mojo. England’s backline took no intercepts in the first term – in contrast, after Kopua’s second intercept in 10 minutes, New Zealand were ahead 9-6.

Jo Harten had a patchy opening by her standards, having one intercept but shooting only four from six, and dropping a gettable ball over the sideline. After her turnover she was agitated with her team, rather than being cool and constructive. Guthrie too was not able to get near the ball in defence, almost apologising rather than running onto the ball as she might normally do. In contrast, New Zealand were dictating and interrupting the Roses plans at every point, blocking any kind of connection and flow. The Silver Ferns shooters seemed impassive, at 86% for the quarter, and they lead 12-9 in the break.


Through the game Harten became more solid on the shot. Photo: Danny Dalton

Gina Crampton was having a bit of a field day finding space wherever she wanted, with the English midcourt defence well off the pace. Meanwhile, Chelsea Pitman was not providing an open dominant lead on centre passes, creating confusion as to the timing of the second phase. Just as England levelled 13-all, Housby stepped on and threw an easy ball to Kiwi hands, and New Zealand took a quick two-goal lead.  Ekenasio was very strong and available on a front hold when Folau was unused and retreating, and Watson took another striking intercept just when it was needed. It was 20-14 midway through the quarter.

Pitman was replaced by Nat Haythornthwaite, with Harten and Housby switching. Crampton continued to own the top of the circle, but an astute umpiring call of short pass was one of her four turnovers for the second quarter, giving the Roses the momentum heading towards half time. That, combined with a heavy stack from Ekenasio in a tangle of legs, meant that England were on a roll not to be stopped. A brilliant bounce pass from Harten to Housby on a baseline bolt got them level and with their dander up in a run of ten goals to one, England surged to the front, their crowd completely in raptures. They lead 24-21 at half time.


Jo Harten fires up. Image May Bailey

The Silver Ferns continued to hold the upper hand in shooting percentages, 87% to 82%, and Ekenasio was a secure reoffering target when Folau was caught out wide. The usual acrobatic retrievals of Guthrie started to appear, exciting the crowd to beyond deafening. Crampton was replaced by Shannon Saunders at wing attack for New Zealand, just as the scores had levelled 29 apiece.

England continued to struggle working out their first phase off a centre pass, where both Harten and Haythornthwaite would take two steps at the same time and then stop cold, with no subsequent offer from any of the Roses. New Zealand were battle-hardened and ready to grind out the quarter, moving to a one-goal lead with three minutes until three quarter time. The nails started to be driven in when Watson took yet another clean direct intercept from a low cross-circle ball passed by Guthrie. Ekenasio sunk four goals in a row and spearheaded the Kiwis to a 36-33 advantage before the last 15 minutes.

With 17/17 heading into the final term, Ekenasio would be happy that the focus was on her shooting partner as she continued to quietly dominate. The movement of Langman was poetic, as she kept reoffering on the sprint and triple-playing the ball. The whole England squad froze the ball, failing to pass to relatively obvious leads, and eventually Saunders got a tip which Folau allowed to trickle to the post and shoot. Halfway through the term it was 42-38 to the Silver Ferns.

Mentor’s mission to stifle access to Folau kept succeeding, but the compromise was her intercept tally was zero for the match. However the challenge to Ekenasio to shoot the game out failed, with the Silver Fern goal attack finishing with 25 goals at a brilliant 96%. The Kiwis played a good team game, and the England tenacity and flair didn’t reappear for more than a few moments. History was to repeat, with England relegated to the bronze match on Sunday, while New Zealand would face off against perennial champions Australia.

New Zealand 47  defeated England 45


Not even Mentor’s reach could stop Ekenasio. Image May Bailey


Key stats


Maria Folau 22/26 (85%)

Ameliaranne Ekenasio 25/26 (96%)


Jo Harten 21/25 (84%)

Helen Housby 24/27 (89%)


Goal assists

Laura Langman 22

Nat Haythornthwaite 15



Serena Guthrie 5

Jane Watson 4

Helen Housby 4

Gina Crampton 4



Serena Guthrie 22

Jade Clarke 15

Casey Kopua 15

Geva Mentor 15



Jane Watson 7

Jo Harten 3

Eboni Usoro-Brown 3

Katrina Rore 3

Casey Kopua 3


Starting lineups

England – Jo Harten GS, Helen Housby GA, Chelsea Pitman WA, Serena Guthrie C, Jade Clarke WD, Eboni Usoro-Brown GD, Gevea Mentor GK

Bench – Natalie Haythornthwaite, Rachel Dunn, Natalie Panagarry, Francesca Williams

Coach – Tracey Neville


New Zealand – Maria Folau GS, Ameliaranne Ekenasio GA, Gina Crampton WA, Laura Langman C, Katrina Rore WD, Casey Kopua GD, Jane Watson GK

Bench – Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Bailey Mes, Shannon Saunders, Karin Burger, Phoenix Karaka

Coach – Noelene Taurua


A jubilant Maria Folau hugs coach Noeline Taurua. Image May Bailey

Casey Kopua, New Zealand

“It feels sometimes effortless, but that’s a lot of hard work and time and effort that we’ve put in together to get that. And it’s a great feeling for it to come out on court. But even when it doesn’t go so great, it’s like what’s next, get onto the next win, which is something that [Jane] and I both have that real good attitude about. It’s probably ball by ball – when you can feel that momentum you really get on top of that and squash the opposition, as mean as that sounds. But you’ve just gotta feel that feel of … you know, when they’re up, you’ve just gotta grind it out, but when we’re up we’ve really gotta push on with that.

“Exactly [they opposition should be] scared or confused, and just probably second-guessing their decision making which in the end I felt like we were getting.

On causing the English to be disorganised on the centre pass…

“Yeah that was our plan obviously, really getting onto our wall, and filling that middle and making it go wide or back, and on second phase going ball by ball til it gets to that circle. That’s what you want, as soon as you see a change [at wing attack] you can get that confidence, next change, you can get a bit more. Not going hard to soon, but building towards the end, so they should feel confused as you said.”


Silver Ferns celebrate making the grand final. Image May Bailey

Geva Mentor, England
“I am gutted to be honest. We didn’t start the way we wanted to. We managed to get ourselves back into the competition. But I think we were just woeful in attack all the way through the court. Defensively, we managed to keep the score fairly low, we just didn’t manage to capitalise on the turnovers.”

“The opposition obviously did their homework on us. Almost nullified us out on court today. I think the changes were important to keep them thinking as well.”

“The crowd have been amazing all week. We felt the love out there. I am just gutted that they couldn’t get us over the edge in the end. Hopefully, they will come back tomorrow and be right behind us.”

Ameliaranne Ekenasio, New Zealand

“Oh man… honestly?.. I just didn’t think I could look at any individual performance and say that was it, because it takes to many of us, man we celebrate so hard whoever gets out on court. I just know that every single person in our team is behind me, we all know that, so that’s why we can rise to the challenge. Honestly it’s huge. We’ve got an amazing leadership group, who drive it, who absolutely ask the most of us. And we’ll give everything to them.

“Yeah I mean it was hard out there, like at no point did that ball ever come in easy to the circle. Those were absolute world class defenders and we had our work cut out for us. We really just wanted to keep the ball, hold the ball. We didn’t care how many passes it took to get it in, we didn’t care how good it looked. We just had to give whatever option was on. Sometimes we knew there wasn’t always going to be a second option, no matter how hard we tried for it.”

Serena Guthrie, England captain
“We were confident that we would have been in that final tomorrow night. I still stand by saying that we deserve to be in a gold medal match. We just didn’t do the job today. We didn’t do what we needed to do to get over the line. To begin with, in the attack I think we were a bit wasteful at times. They started better than us. We got ourselves back into the game. We had opportunities to win that game. That’s the bit that hurts – when you get yourself in a position to win a game but don’t.”

Eboni Usoro-Brown, England

“It was like a tough encounter out there today, I think we weren’t clinical enough with the ball we turned over, and New Zealand put together four consistent quarters. [Ekenasio] had a good game, but I think Geva and I actually shut them down quite a lot if you look at the second quarter. It was good to come back from three goals down. In terms of the ball we’ve turned over, we just weren’t consistent enough in taking it through court. We had lots of chat – Geva and Jade are still at the back there, so I think we got enough turnover, I think it’s something.. we got a bit hesitant on the ball coming through court today. New Zealand did exceptionally well in terms of their zone defence and getting the intercepts. It’s something we need to look at before tomorrow’s game.”


The loneliest walk. Image May Bailey

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Former player Qld/NSW. Former umpire. Regular writer for Netball Scoop ;-P


  1. […] England’s dream undefeated run throughout the tournament came to an end in today’s semi-final against New Zealand. England fought back in the second term – creating an 8-goal turnaround, but New Zealand showed determination to hold them off until the final whistle. See the full match report here.  […]

  2. twodogs July 21, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Nothings changed then Australia V NZ AGAIN

  3. […] Full match report here […]

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