- New Zealand are currently ranked second in the world and recently captured their first Quad Series title after overcoming Australia in their final game of the four-team tournament. The co-host nation had started their campaign with an impressive display against South Africa, but were left with everything to do in their final game after suffering a narrow defeat to England in Auckland. However, a ten-goal victory over their bitter rivals clinched the win for the Silver Ferns.
- England were forced to endure mixed emotions in the Quad Series tournament. A closely fought game against Australia ended in defeat, before an incredible victory over New Zealand set up a must-win game against South Africa, a team that had never won a Quad Series game. Unfortunately, The Roses were left stunned in Invercargill as the side from the southern hemisphere edged the contest 54-51 to leave England’s players feeling more than a little dejected.
New Zealand’s head coach Janine Southby has made no secret of the fact that she is planning ahead as she prepares her side for next year’s Commonwealth Games. As a former Silver Fern, Southby is all too aware of the importance of team spirit, which is precisely why she has put such emphasis on her team’s recent international encounters. She beamed with pride as her girls wrestled the Quad Series title from Australia’s grasp, before claiming that her team had been “written off” in the lead up to the tournament. Despite the win, the team in black were forced to concede defeat to England in their second group match, a result that could linger in the back of many New Zealand minds ahead of the upcoming internationals.
England’s victory over the Silver Ferns was certainly the highlight of a Quad Series that ultimately ended in disappointment. Tracey Neville must now build confidence within her squad after having it shattered just days earlier by South Africa. It will be up to England’s long-serving head coach to instill the same belief in her side that allowed them to play New Zealand off the count in the latter stages of August’s meeting, something that will be difficult, but not impossible.
The English rearguard just about managed to handle Bailey Mes in their previous meeting, restricting the goal-getting Kiwi to just an 85 percent conversion rate. However, if the 28-year-old hits her stride, much like she did against South Africa and Australia - games in which she netted 52 of her 54 shots - The Roses could be facing an early uphill struggle.
Of course, with the likes of Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten and Geva Mentor plying their trade in Australia, England have players that are more that capable of cutting it south of the equator, but it remains to be seen whether the whole team can cope with what will certainly be a New Zealand side on a high following their victory over world number one, Australia. Yes, complacency may play its part at times from the point of view of the Silver Ferns, but over the course of three games, the hosts should have far too much for their English counterparts.
Sports.net’s top tip:
- New Zealand to win the series 3-0