Roses fall short in their bid to reach a first ever World Cup Final
Costly mistakes from England saw them succumb to a 50-39 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in their World Cup semi-final in Sydney this morning. The Silver Ferns were able to capitalise on numerous England failings in possession to secure their place in the final and send the Roses into a bronze medal play-off.
The warning signs were apparent from the opening passage of play. England failed to retain their first centre-pass and Bailey Mes was able to start the scoring. An early miss from Jo Harten was rebounded by the shooter but she was penalised for contact. The Silver Ferns went on the attack and were quickly 4-0 ahead.
A reliable feature from the Roses during this tournament has been the intensity of the defence. Geva Mentor was leading the way and finally England exploded into life. It may have taken a while, but Serena Guthrie’s mesmeric long range feed into Harten put the Roses on the scoreboard. More chances fell the way of the team in red but they were proving inaccurate in the final third.
A shooting accuracy of just 45% went some way to showing why England had only scored five at the end of the first quarter. The Silver Ferns taking a healthy 11-5 lead. With the attack end failing to fire, Pamela Cookey was introduced for the second quarter at GA. The Roses responded in determined fashion.
The defensive pressure resulted in a held ball being called on Maria Tutaia and the gap was reduced. A miss from the usually reliable Tutaia was then claimed by the England defence and the deficit was down to two. Just one converted turnover away, England were given possession when New Zealand were called for an attacking penalty. The chance to get the game back on centre-pass was lost with a contact call against Jade Clarke.
This shifted the momentum back to New Zealand who pushed the lead back out to five approaching the half-time break.
A spirited England came back and secured a converted turnover of their own. A last second Harten long-ranger found the net but was ruled out as it failed to beat the umpire’s whistle. At the interval the Roses trailed 17-21.
The supporters decked out in their St Georges flags were in buoyant mood and sniffing a potential fight back. That positivity was quickly extinguished in the third quarter as the Silver Ferns once again made the better start.
A pair of turnovers in England’s attacking end allowed Tutaia to show why she is seen as the finest long range shooter in the world. Within two minutes of the restart, the Roses had fallen eight behind. The match went goal for goal for an extended period of the third quarter as England were being held by a hard working New Zealand outfit.
Defensively, England continued to produce turnover ball but the moves started to break down in the mid-court as the pressure from the match clock started to make an impact. With a game to chase, Tracey Neville introduced Sara Bayman and Sonia Mkoloma to the action with Clarke switched to WA for the final quarter.
Another steal from Mentor had the Roses back on the attack, only for possession to be lost in the final third. Every time a chance was created to take the game to our illustrious opponents, it seemed to fall away as rapidly as it was created. Nerveless shooting from Tutaia made sure that the Silver Ferns were not to suffer any last ditch wobbles.
If World Cups were won on spirit, fight and passion; England would be perennial winners. However, world class sides pick off mistakes and punish errors. That is why the Roses will once again be watching the World Cup final through envious eyes.
England starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Housby, WA – Greenway, C – Clarke, WD – Guthrie, GD – Beckford-Chambers, GK – Mentor
New Zealand starting 7: GS – Bes, GA – Tutaia, WA – Rasmussen, C – Langman, WD – Cullen, GD – Grant, GK – Kopua
England shooting stats: Harten: 31/36 – 86%, Housby: 1/4 – 25%, Cookey: 7/10 – 70%,