Quad Series Netball: Australia wins the tournament but New Zealand benefited the most
As a World Cup form guide, the quad series raised as many questions as it answered. NAT MEDHURST evaluates the performance of all teams.
The Quad series had it all.
The return of superstars, international debutants, one sent off and another sent home, a tie game, incredible player milestones and a referee controversy that will be talked about for a long time to come.
Meanwhile, Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa continued to lay the groundwork for July’s World Cup.
Some questions were answered, but many others were raised.
A seventh win in the Quad Series confirmed Australia’s commitment to the World Championship and provided a glimpse of what the Diamonds have been working towards.
Stacey Marinkovich used players wisely, especially when challenged and fighting back from behind.
Slow starts for the Diamonds are a concern, and with no more friendly games ahead of the World Cup, Marinkovich faces the challenge of figuring out how to address this issue and ultimately implement a solution. Despite their impressive comebacks – and they have to be given their credit – the Diamonds will be aware that a slow start in July could be punished.
It was gratifying to see vice-captain Steph Wood advance and control the goal circle, using her cleverness and creativity to make room for her feeders and shooting partners. This has been inconsistent over the past 12 months.
Defensively, the Diamonds could smother their opponents, slow ball movement, and attack balls in the air. Managing their ability to stay in the game, especially at crucial times, is something they need to keep working on.
They may not have won the trophy, but I believe the Silver Ferns have made the most of this series – and have the most to win over the next six months.
Dame Noeline Taurua tested combinations and provided valuable, consistent minutes for those players who still need to be challenged at international level, particularly shooter Grace Nweke.
Nweke’s combination with captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio was impressive in his short tenure. However, with Nweke attracting more attention due to her dominance, Ekenasio needs to make sure she’s a consistent threat. That was contradictory and she was guilty of being missed at times when she needed to.
With Jane Watson also back in the defensive circle after maternity leave, her combinations with Kelly Jury and Phoenix Karaka will go from strength to strength as she readjusts to the intensity of international netball and training camps.
The Ferns also need to ensure they maintain a low number of penalties, particularly in their midfield. With the style of play they use, being a zone and having their midfield out of play more often than desired makes it much easier for opponents to reach the goalpost.
I would expect there to be a lot of conversation going on in and around the England Roses netball headquarters at the moment. Despite a talented roster, big investments and the hype surrounding the team, they fell far short of expectations.
Those who saw the footage of Rose’s head coach Jess Thirlby addressing her playgroup after their tie against the Proteas would have been surprised. Sprays by coaches in front of spectators and TV cameras, while interesting to watch, don’t always go over well with players. How the players feel about the team environment and the influence of their coach has to be observed until the World Cup.
Of equal concern was the fact that England’s style of play was incoherent and inconsistent, with the attacking line struggling for ways around the crease and into goal. There were also far too many errors committed by their attacking midfield. The cloud of injuries surrounding veteran marksman Jo Harten – and the reasons for her quick departure from South Africa – will interest many.
Defensively, particularly Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth, the Roses were relatively solid, limiting opponent speed and ball flow. But the clarity of combinations elsewhere on the pitch and the consistency of performances were uninspiring.
These need to be addressed. And maybe also the position of the coach.
The World Cup hosts, renowned coach Norma Plummer back in the hot seat and the return of veteran players combined for performances filled with passion and pride.
Goal defender Karla Pretorius showed everyone what a true champion she is and what she brings to this side by making a stunning comeback after the birth of her first child. Her interception in the first-round draw against England was one of the highlights.
With the return of Pretorius as well as marksmen Lenize Potgieter and Ine-Mari Venter, Plummer has a great group of players to work with in the coming months. She needs to limit turnover and minimize the gap between her best and worst plays. Plummer also has some big decisions to make to determine how best to deploy the young players who are coming through and where they fit into their World Cup campaign.
South Africa will develop into a strong nation in the coming years.
https://www.codesports.com.au/netball/quad-series-report-card-australia-won-the-tournament-but-new-zealand-might-have-benefitted-most-in-countdown-to-world-cup/news-story/958528552f5dafb0f828139578e7e4ba?nk=d85f174e5235b435fc7c73af04d7cf73-1674851230 Quad Series Netball: Australia wins the tournament but New Zealand benefited the most