Contributors: Jaimie Keay, Tobey Keddey, Emily Bruce, Katrina Nissen
The Silver Ferns won the Taini Jamison Series, defeating the England Roses 2 tests to 1. Pre-series, the talk was around the inexperienced team travelling from England, but they certainly delivered quality netball and showed that the North is building some nice depth as we begin the next four-year cycle towards the Netball World Cup in 2027.
Netball Scoop has you covered with our wrap of the series.
TEST 1 – Sunday 24th September, Christchurch Arena, Otautahi/Christchurch
England Roses 55 def New Zealand Silver Ferns 54 (12-13, 17-10, 14-14, 12-17)
What an unexpected start to this series!
The English Roses were slammed for poor management and for sending a “B Team” over to New Zealand. Even with the likes of Sasha Glasgow being a Suncorp Super Netball mainstay and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis being a part of English teams that have defeated the Silver Ferns numerous times. While the Roses did not send a single player from their silver medal campaign at the Netball World Cup and by the looks of things, they didn’t need too.
Nervous starts for both teams plagued the initial flow of the contest and saw a 13-12 score line for the Silver Ferns. Once the English attack got rolling in the second quarter, they were unstoppable. Going against a defensive quartet that has been playing international netball for 2-3 Netball World Cup cycles, they had no answers for the quick, English attack that was able to score 17 goals to create a 6 goal difference, 29-23.
The attacking end of the Silver Ferns didn’t seem to gel in the first half. A repetitive theme since the Netball World Cup, as they are still missing key Goal Shooter Grace Nweke who is aiming to be back for the Constellation Cup tests in New Zealand. The Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Ekenasio combination seems to have no flow on attack, continuously running the same lines as each other. This forced the young mid court pair, Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness to play the ball around which with the lack of experience, created many easy errors.
The young English defence line exploited this for the first three quarters and created 17 turnovers and 7 gains through the clever work of Amy Carter and Vicki Oyesola.
The Roses maintain their winning ways in the championship quarter by tying in the third 14 all. With the score line growing to as big as 10 goals, the Ferns made key changes midway through the quarter of Mila Reulu-Buchanan into Wing Attack, Tiana Metuarau at Goal Attack and Jane Watson into Goal Keeper that saw it reduce back to a more respectable 6 goals.
The tenacity of the Silver Ferns looked to be back in the fourth quarter with stronger defensive pressure and clear attacking structures. The Ferns picked up a lot more ball on defence and Reulu-Buchanan was crucially stable with the ball in hand. They were able to draw level with a few minutes to go but the Roses kept ticking over their centre pass and kept a 1-goal over the New Zealand Silver Ferns, 55-54.
Sasha Glasgow (England)
Halimat Adio (England)
Berri Neil (England)
Alicia Scholes (England)
Where the match was won and lost?
The Roses won this game through their silky skills in attack that allowed them to open the game up in the second and third quarter. Their nothing to lose attitude gave them the freedom to continue building scoreboard pressure and force the defence guessing. The Roses converted very few turnovers during this period which forced Coach Noelene Taurua to use all of her defenders.
The Silver Ferns attack struggled for the majority of the game with careless turnovers and only having one option to the ball. Their attack plus the lack of defensive ball received during the first three quarters demonstrated a continuation of the poor form of the Silver Ferns since the Netball World Cup.
But, as expected, no lead is really safe against the hungry Silver Ferns who were able to force turnovers and penalties against the Roses in the final term, to draw the lead back to a one-goal deficit by the final whistle.
Which players and combinations made the difference ?
The shooting combination of Sophie Drakeford Lewis and the debutant Sasha Glasgow were deadly. They shot accurately and moved the ball at speed that saw New Zealand’s best defenders struggle to shut them down. Starting the game off with a few nerves, they were able to quickly settle and piece together fluid attacking plays that easily broke New Zealand’s wall defensive structure down.
Sasha Glasgow’s ability to switch from a holding game to moving quickly along the baseline made her hard to mark. Shooting 38 goals with 91% accuracy and being able to send Kelly Jury to the bench saw her win Player of the Match. The Glasgow and Jury contest will be something to watch in next games, especially with their historic battle at the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup Grand Final that Jury was able to force her to the Australian bench.
Sasha Glasgow 38/41 (91%)
Sophie Drakeford-Lewis 15/19 (79%)
Berri Neil 2/3 (67%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 39/41 (95%)
Maia Wilson 9/11 (82%)
Tiana Metaurau 6/7 (86%)
Sasha Glasgow (England)
Halimat Adio – on the ‘B Team’ tag
“There was a lot of noise in the background. But we didn’t really care about that. We cared about what was inside of us.”
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – a slow start to the test
“We did it to ourselves. I think the energy that we had in the last quarter we need that from the start and I was actually surprised we didn’t have that from the start to be honest. I said in my interview after the game, we’ve got a young group who have heaps of energy, that’s what they bring, we just need to make sure we see it out on court.”
Liana Leota – What impressed you?
“ Possession. I think just cherishing it. We’ve worked really hard on it over the last two weeks, and especially going into yesterday was a big focus. I think we were confident with ball in hand. With New Zealand’s structure, they take away space and it makes it look full. But I think we always saw an option, and if we weren’t comfortable giving the forward ball, we’d play the patient to reset and goal again. So that was definitely one thing that we really wanted to nail today.”
Sasha Glasgow – a dream International debut
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m stoked. I definitely would be able to do it with these girls. A couple of shaky shots at the start, but we’ll park them. Just really proud to be a Rose.”
TEST 2 – Wednesday 27th September, Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua
New Zealand Silver Ferns 57 def England Roses 36 (17-7, 10-16, 12-7, 18-6)
The Porirua fortress saw the return of a passionate Silver Ferns side that dominated, 57-36 and ended their 5-game non-winning streak.
After a brilliant start to the series, the English Roses started with the same starting seven in hopes of a similar result. While the Ferns brought in a lot of new faces into the starting 7 with debutant Amelia Walmsley starting at Goal Shooter to bring a physical presence to the position. After strong performances in the second half of Test One, Mila Reulu-Buchanan and Maddy Gordon were given the nod for the Wing Attack and Centre positions while Kate Heffernan was shifted back to her foundational position of Wing Defence.
The First quarter saw a performance we had expected from the Silver Ferns coming into this series. They were hungry for the ball, they let the ball go and were gunning for any loose ball. It was great to see the players rebound from a terrible Test One and start off with a lot of energy and confidence in their play. The poor shooting from Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and consistent defensive penalties forced the Roses into a tough position early on. The Silver Ferns lead the First Quarter, 17-7.
Roses Coach Liana Leota injected several new players into their lineup in the second quarter. With Berri Neil coming on and giving the Roses attack end speed, strong drives and accurate shooting. Her combination with Sasha Glasgow in at Goal Attack split the New Zealand defensive structure through their free flowing attack which became difficult to defend like we saw in Test One.
While the English defence stripped away the easy option into Walmsley, forcing New Zealand into a similar strategy seen in Test One of passing the ball around aimlessly waiting for an option to be created. The Ferns stagnated attack looked to be back alongside the creation of several silly errors. Too reminiscent of their attacking play of the last couple months, Silver Ferns triggered the PTSD of their fan base where they lost the second quarter comprehensively, 10-16.
Visibly teary coming out of the sheds, vice-captain Phoenix Karaka looked fired up in her halftime interview. Clearly frustrated with the performance of her Silver Ferns, she came out determined and was warning that they were going to come out a different side.
Whatever happened in those half time sheds woke the New Zealand up into another gear, as they came out explosive, dynamic and clear about what was needed to score. The defensive pressure was immense and the impressive block shots were coming in spades. After a player of the match performance last week, Sasha Glasgow was sent to the bench for the new combination of Neil and Drakeford-Lewis, giving another benching win to Kelly Jury and Karaka.
The second half was a very consistent and dominant performance by the Silver Ferns and the England Roses were very consistent in trying new combinations but it was too little, too late. The Ferns won the third quarter 12-7 and then a dominant performance in the fourth quarter, 18-6.
The Silver Ferns kept the same 7 players on court the entire game and they were able to continue building and learn from their mistakes.
Special mention to the other debutant of the night Jayda Pechova, who was also only 19 years old, who came on in the second half at Goal Keeper for the Roses.
Amelia Walmsley (New Zealand)
Jayda Pechova (England)
Where the match was won and lost?
New Zealand won this game because they had an attacking structure which fits the formula of Coach Noeline Taurua. Whether it was at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic with Irene Van Dyk, Sunshine Coast Lightning with Caitlin Bassett or SIlver Ferns with Maria Folau or Grace Nweke, Taurua’s attack has centred around a tall Goal Shooter. For Taurua’s attack, they are able to play a zero phase attack, seperate themselves from the defence to drive towards the ball or the circle edge and throw the quick ball into a tall shooter.
Amelia Walmsley provided the height and hold necessary for this kind of attacking style to work during Test 2. Walmsley’s presence forced the defenders to go 2-on-1, freeing Ekenasio to be an easy option to offload the ball too. This allowed the midcourters to have a clearer drive to circle edge and easier feeding option to their shooters. But once a defender left Walmsley and attacked the ball or defended Ekenasio, the midcourters had free reign to chuck the ball into Walmsley for goal.
This has been the strategy of the Ferns with Grace Nweke over the last year-and-a-half which saw major success against the top teams in the world. Ever since she has been injured, the Ferns haven’t had that option which saw us draw against South Africa and then lose the next four games on the trot. Knowing the Ferns have a backup for this kind of attacking plan in Walmsley is a positive moving forward.
Which players and combinations stood out?
New Zealand’s defensive end was the complete parallel to how they performed against the Roses on Sunday. Phoenix Karaka was Test 2’s MVP and rightfully so. The work she did alongside Kelly Jury against three very different shooting combinations was great to watch. The defensive quartet forced 21 turnovers, created 16 gains and 5 intercepts. In parallel to the English defence which got 5 gains and 0 intercepts, their ability to generate defensive ball stunted their progress.
Berri Neil for the England Roses was a standout performer when she came on in the second quarter. While small in stature for the goal shooter position, the ability to use her speed and open the baseline was a master stroke tactical change by coach Liana Leota. Her movement complimented Glasgow and it certainly gave the Ferns defenders more to think about throughout the match.
Sasha Glasgow – 11/15 (73%)
Berri Neil – 18/24 (75%)
Sophie Darkeford-Lewis – 7/14 (50%)
Amelia Walmsley – 36/41 (88%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – 21/23 (91%)
MVP: Phoenix Karaka
Dame Noeline Taurua – on her side’s victory
“Yeah always good to respond in that manner. Obviously coming out with a 20 goal, is probably what everybody expected, but also i think there were some really good plays. I thought the urgency, which is something that we really spoke about and the energy that we started in the games at times dipped, but for a majority we’re able to hold it. So thats pleasing.
“Oh amazing. I keep saying it’s quite hard, you know that she’s only 19. I thought she was very mature out there, physical, they were physical underneath the post and I thought she handled that well. Obviously supported by Mummy Mills as well. So I thought she done amazing. She will be very proud of herself in her debut.”
Amelia Walmsley – how did she find her first test cap?
“Yeah it was interesting. It was a good battle out there. But yeah, I think it’s just great to get some experience under my belt, to feel what it’s like out there. I think I just rushed into my shot to start with. So just once I get the ball, reset myself, take a deep breath and then go for the shot.”
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – leadership after the loss in Test 1
“Yeah I think it’s definitely my job to lead by my actions. So i think i didn’t feel the need to speak anymore, but definitely just do, get out and really do my job and own that and i think that’s been at the forefront of my mind. So that’s how I wanted to come into this series and definitely feel like i’m taking steps in that direction.”
Liana Leota – on her side’s performance compared to Test 1.
“They showed that fight and determination to pull it back so closely in the second quarter and then the third quarter. I thought there were patches of consistency, but we just let them go. We missed a couple of crucial shots at crucial moments but how they (Ferns) finished and how they started, I think that’s what we need to work on.
“I think in the first test we were very fearless because we hadn’t experienced it before and we just played with that freedom, but then moving into test two, it’s like “how do we back that up?” And so we will grow from that.”
TEST 3 – Saturday 30th September, Globox Arena, Kirikiriroa/Hamilton
New Zealand Silver Ferns defeated England Roses 59-52 (12-14, 15-10, 14-15, 18-13) to claim the Taini Jamison trophy.
Starting the decider, both coaches decided to reward players for their performances in Test 2. With the Roses opting for a Glasgow, Neil shooting circle and Ellie Rattu getting the WD bib after giving good impact in the first two matches.England came out firing in the first quarter. A strong start by England saw some precision passing and super speed on the pass which allowed a much easier passage to goals, and took away the strength of the famous zone of the Ferns.
For Dame Noeline Taurua, she ran the same lineup from Test 2. While the Roses came out of the blocks firing and stayed with the Ferns until late in the game, Taurua again stuck with her starting seven and allowed them the time to work through what was happening on court. In particular with defenders the likes of Jane Watson and Karin Burger on the bench, it would have been an option to bring on the experienced Tactix pairing.
Alice Harvey for England saw her first time on court this series and got closed to 30 minutes in at GK.
Being the deciding match of the series, both sides gave up less turnovers than the first two test matches. For the Roses they were able to bring there down from 21 in Test 2, t0 only 13 this game. Stand out to this was Berri Neil who gave up 5 in Porirua, but didn’t give up a turnovers in the final test.
Where the match was won and lost?
For the Roses, this game was one that showed that having an additional Goal-Defence in the squad, a player like Fran Williams would have added to the defensive end. Oyesola played the full 60 minutes in the opening two games, and then had only 5 minutes off the court in Test 3. Having an additional GD, to give Oyesola time on the bench to have a look at how things were unfolding on court but also to give the Ferns a chance to then respond to would have been beneficial.
Which players and combinations stood out?
For the second test in a row we saw what could be a nice combination building between Amelia Walmsley and Ameliaranne Ekenasio for the Ferns. After Ekenasio had time with both Maia Wilson and Tiana Metuarau in the opening game, it was the time with Walmsley that was the most lethal against England.
Having the tall target of Walmsley allows Ekenasio to time her runs into the circle and draw the defenders away from the post. It appears to be a more naturally suited game for her, similar to when she plays with Grace Nweke and it was key to the two victories.
Berri Neil and Sasha Glasgow used their attacking speed to catch the Ferns defenders chasing and allowed their feeders lots of space to drive to the circle edge and get easy feeds into the circle. The Ferns new attacking connection struggled to come out like they did during Test Two and seen in Test One very accurately and that forced the Ferns defenders to leave the key attacking lines for the easy pass in.
Glasgow again in test 3, showed her strength in rebounding. She for the second time this series topped the rebound stats for both teams. No doubt, it will be one area of the Ferns game they will be needing to improve on before they face Australia this month.
Amelia Walmsley – 40/44 (91%
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – 19/23 (83%)
Sasha Glasgow – 26/29 (90%)
Berri Neil – 26/32 (81%)
MVP: Amelia Walmsley
Halimat Adio – thoughts on the Taini Jamison series
“I thought it was great. It was very contested; I think we always knew playing against the Silver Ferns it was going to be a challenge but I think we were up for the challenge. We showed our depth and we just showed what we’ve got in our squad.”
Liana Leota – thoughts on the series
We can take back key learnings; we got lots of players out on court to experience the New Zealand style and also there’s so much evidence that we can capture of winning, of losing, of losing by big margins. The second quarter of test two, that fight and that comeback, and then going goal for goal, this last (match) but not getting over the line in the final quarter.”
Moving forward to next up for Roses
“I walk away from this series excited. We talked about all our objectives and targets we wanted, and we go home with our cup full. I think we’ve exceeded all of our targets and more. And then I think the exciting thing is we’ve got 12 players sitting at home getting ready to go into camp and looking towards that South Africa series.”