Netball: Harlow’s Jo plays her part in England win

England 54 v 41 New Zealand

COMMONWEALTH champions England equalled their best win over New Zealand with a 54-41 victory in their opening match of the Quad Series in Liverpool reports the BBC.

The Roses led 25-24 after an even first half but pulled away in the third quarter to build a 10-goal lead.

“They are a slick outfit, they really challenged us and exposed weaknesses but we implemented the gameplan well,” said England coach Tracey Neville.

“It sets the tone for the rest of the series and the win was what we wanted.”

England faced a new-look New Zealand, who brought in coach Noeline Taurua after failing to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games for the first time when they were held last April.

The return of stalwart defender Casey Kopua and centre-court player Laura Langman gave them valuable experience, as the Silver Ferns matched England for skill, speed and tenacity in the opening two quarters.

But the longer the game progressed, the more England’s shooting partnership of Joanne Harten and Helen Housby found fluidity and success against an increasingly frustrated visiting defence.

This was no more evident than when goal defence Karin Burger was sent off for two minutes in the fourth quarter for heavy – and clumsy – contact on Harten.

The Roses’ attacking intent was complemented by the quick hands of Chelsea Pitman at wing attack and stamina and vision of captain Serena Guthrie, while their defence of Eboni Usuro-Brown and Geva Mentor did a solid job shackling Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekensio.

The 13-point margin of victory equalled England’s 52-39 win over New Zealand last September.

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