Netball: Late Silver Ferns rally falls short in improved outing against England at Nations Cup

  • 28/01/2024

Silver Ferns have been knocked out of the Nations Cup after a hard-fought 58-57 defeat to England in Leeds on Sunday (NZ time).

Trailing by six goals halfway through the final quarter, a late blitz inside the final two minutes led by shooter Grace Nweke drew the new-look Ferns within a solitary goal to set up a dramatic finish.  

But with 20 seconds remaining and a chance to level the score within reach, a stray entry pass inside the circle was tipped clear and the hosts held on to secure victory.

Kate Heffernan shoots for goal.
Kate Heffernan shoots for goal. Photo credit: Photosport

After defeat to Australia and a win over Uganda, the New Zealanders needed to win to book a place in Monday's final against the Diamonds.

Result aside, Dame Noeline Taurua's side will likely be encouraged by a much-improved all-round effort against the World Cup finalists. Eleven total players were used in the match, including two on debut.

"There was a lot grit shown out there," said Dame Noeline.

"Our ability to finalise some of those plays at the end, whether it's a pass through court or the connections are the things we have to learn on the job.

"When it came down to it, we should have got that last goal in. But you've got to learn to play to win and we're not quite there, so all credit to the Roses."

The Ferns began the contest brightly, with Nweke trading blows with her English opposite Eleanor Cardwell to give the visitors a one-goal advantage at the end of the first quarter.

That trend continued in the second quarter, with the hosts edging ahead by a single goal at the halftime interval.

The English turned up their defensive intensity in the third quarter as errors began to creep into New Zealand's game, allowing them to take a three-goal goal lead into the final quarter.

New Zealand responded with some high-pressure defence of their own but untimely mistakes prevented them from making inroads on their deficit, which hovered steadily around the three-goal mark.

The English drew to as many as six goals clear in the fourth quarter, before New Zealand's late rally came up agonisingly short.

England will now face Australia in a World Cup final rematch in Monday's final, after Silver Ferns take on Uganda in the third-place playoff.

England Roses 58 (Eleanor Cardwell 35/40, Helen Housby 23/26) Silver Ferns 57 (Grace Nweke 47/50, Amorangi Malesala 6/7, Georgia Heffernan 4/4).