The Silver Ferns were consigned to a fourth straight loss when they fell 54-41 to the England Roses in their Northern Netball Quad Series opener in Liverpool on Monday.
Shooters Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio produced encouraging shooting returns for the Silver Ferns with both shooting in the 90 percent range but a lack of ball counted against the team.
At the same venue that will be used for July’s Netball World Cup, the pair delivered a worthy appetiser with a close and competitive first half before an experienced England exploded into life during a dominant second half.
Former Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua made her return to the international stage for the first time since 2015 with the desired impact in her in-circle defensive role while fleet-footed wing attack Whitney Souness also made her first appearance in over a year.
With coach Noeline Taurua exploring all her options, exciting young midcourt prospect Kimiora Poi and defender Erena Mikaere made their international debuts to become Silver Ferns #174 and #175 respectively.
After England took a 13-12 lead into the first break, the Silver Ferns replied with a drawn second quarter. Souness was a prominent contributor, continually finding space and getting the ball into her shooters hands as the teams went goal-for-goal as England snuck to a 25-24 halftime lead.
It was England who put their foot down in a decisive third quarter which changed the course of the game. The hosts defensive duo of Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown coupled with the sharp shooting of Jo Harten and midcourt dominance gave England the upper hand.
In a bid to stem the flow, Gina Crampton, at wing attack and Mikaere in the defensive circle, were introduced to the action but the Silver Ferns struggled to keep a lid on England’s strong driving play and accuracy.
The Silver Ferns were unable to match England in the possession stakes as the hosts powered their way to a 40-30 lead at the last break.
Staging a mini revival in the run home, the Silver Ferns faced further problems when Burger was stood down for two minutes after infringing for a second time following a warning.
With an extra player, England made the most of their chances to ram home the advantage. The Silver Ferns had their moments but lacked consistency in the process of trying a number of new combinations and personnel in their build towards the world championships.
The Silver Ferns will next play Australia at 5:30am on Sunday (NZT), with the Diamonds posting a 62-45 win over the South Africa Proteas in their opener.
Champion Data Match Centre
Q1: NZL 12 - ENG 13
HT: NZL 24 - ENG 25
Q3: NZL 30 - ENG 40
FT: NZL 41 - ENG 54
Shooting Stats - Silver Ferns:
Maria Folau 28/31 (90%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 13/14 (93%)
Shooting Stats - England:
Jo Harten 27/32 (84%)
Helen Housby 25/31 (81%)
Natalie Haythornthwaite 2/3 (67%)