Ferns mull Langman change
Laura Langman’s move to wing defence might just last one game.
The Silver Ferns skipper played the full 60 minutes at wing defence in yesterday’s 54-41 loss to England in their Northern Quad Series opener in Liverpool, their fourth straight loss to the Commonwealth Games gold medallists.
Langman started all seven games in the centre bib to finish 2018 under new Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua. Following the 13-goal loss, which equalled their record losing margin to the Roses set last September, Taurua admitted she was weighing up returning Langman to centre against Australia on Sunday in London.
Midcourt standout Langman is adept in either role, but neither Sam Sinclair or debutante Kimiora Poi were able to impose themselves at centre. They both found the going tough against experienced English star Serena Guthrie and the Ferns battled to establish connections with their shooting end and get the ball in smoothly, courtesy of strong defence from the Roses.
Langman offers the Ferns a calming figure in the middle of the court on both attack and defence and they missed her presence there with Sinclair delivering a quiet showing and guilty of too many turnovers.
Taurua will quickly need to decide during the Quad Series where Langman’s best position in the midcourt lies with time ticking until July’s Netball World Cup, which will be held at M&S Bank Arena, the same venue as yesterday’s game.
‘‘To be honest, I may have to look at that again and see what we can do to have more firepower or direction in that attacking end or hard drives. [Langman] certainly provides that there,’’ Taurua told Stuff.
‘‘The offset to that is what it looks like in goal defence [without Langman at wing defence]. I can definitely explore that as an option [against Australia].’’
The loss to England was the Silver Ferns’ 14th in their past 22 matches since the start of 2018. It was also their sixth loss to England in their last eight games with the Roses demonstrating why they are World Cup title favourites alongside Australia. New Zealand showed promise in the first half, trailing 25-24 at halftime, but were blown away in the third quarter, where they allowed England to score five straight goals and build a 31-25 lead.
England won the third term 15-6 to take a 40-30 advantage into the final quarter, which the Ferns were never going to peg back.
Silly errors plagued the Ferns in the third term, committing eight turnovers and only being able to put up eight attempts at goal, compared to England’s 18.
‘‘I thought some of the basics, so not executing or not even getting the centre pass away and turnover of ball at certain times [was critical] and because of that they ended up getting the ball back and putting it through the hoop,’’ Taurua said.
‘‘There’s basic skill errors that are costly at certain times. Set strategies that aren’t working because we’re not committing fully to them. Coming up against Australia, we will find out whether we have progressed or not.’’
While unhappy with the Ferns’ secondhalf showing, where they were outscored 29-17, Taurua was pleased with how Maria Folau and the returning Ameliaranne Ekenasio went in the shooting end, converting 41/45 (91 per cent) as a duo.
Shooting hurt the Ferns in the Quad Series and Constellation Cup at the end of last year and Taurua said it was an encouraging sign. Getting Folau and Ekenasio greater opportunities to put the ball through the hoop was the challenge with England having 66 attempts for the game, compared to New Zealand’s 45.
‘‘I’m really happy with that, that both Mels [Ekenasio] and Ria [Folau] were able to do that and do their job. That’s really a pleasing aspect I suppose.’’
Ferns centurion and former skipper Casey Kopua also got through a full game in her return to the black dress. Kopua was playing her first international in 1171 days after last appearing in the 2015 Constellation Cup.
A plantar fascia foot injury thwarted Kopua’s comeback at the end of 2018, but she had her moments against England, picking up two intercepts, two rebounds, as well as several defensive tips. BURGER SINBINNING
Silber Ferns goal defence Casey Kopua leaps high to block a shot by England’s Helen Housby during yesterday’s match in Liverpool.
Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman may switch to centre against Australia after a tough day for the Kiwi midcourt against England.