Netball: New Silver Ferns era off to shaky start against England

New Zealand discovered they will need more than a change in coach and captain to turn around their international netball programme, falling to their biggest-ever loss to England in Auckland.

Just a few days into the Noeline Taurua-Laura Langman era, the Silver Ferns had high hopes of reversing their nine-goal loss to the Roses in pool play at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

But despite levelling the scores soon after half-time, the NZ side fell away to eventually lose 52-39.

In their first outing since winning gold on the Gold Coast, England were quickly on top, running out to a 13-8 advantage after the opening quarter.

From the outset, the English defensive circle of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth had their counterparts under pressure, both with and without the ball.

The NZ midcourt struggled to find a way to feed into the shooting circle and once there, the shooters were often wayward.

But to their credit, they hung tough and mounted a determined comeback in the second quarter, outscoring their guests 13-9 to close within a goal at half-time.

Taurua replaced Ameliaranne Ekenasio with Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal attack and that move paid early dividends, with Maria Folau striking to level the score-line at 23-23.

That was as close as the contest got, with England scoring three straight goals to snatch back momentum. By the end of the third period, they were four goals to the better and then simply rammed home that advantage with a 14-5 final quarter.

England goal attack Helen Housby emerged as the game's best shooter, recording 28/31 for a 90 percent return. Folau was New Zealand's best with 22/30, but even that was well below what was needed and was subbed off late. 

Taurua took the opportunity to blood two newcomers to the black dress, introducing midcourt Elisapeta Toeava in the third quarter and Karin Burger at wing defence in the fourth.

"We let ourselves down, I think," reflected Ferns skipper Langman. "I certainly made a couple of passing errors and it probably showed some of the links that weren't quite there.

"But that's our stake in the ground and we've got to be better than we were today tomorrow.

"There were probably a lot of nerves for a lot of people out there, myself included.

"We've got a long way to go in a very short space of time, but we're going to be charging."

The Silver Ferns must now regroup for their next Quad Series outing against South Africa in Tauranga on Tuesday.

England move to Newcastle for a Commonwealth Games final rematch against Australia on Wednesday. 

More to come