Tomorrow’s semi-final clash between England and New Zealand is set to be an absolute spectacle of netball. Anna Mayes’ side will be facing the current Commonwealth champions, after they beat Australia 66-64 in double extra time at the previous Games in Delhi 2010.
The Silver Ferns finished top of their group, having seen off Malawi and Jamaica in closely contested matches. They are also the team with the greatest goal difference across the tournament, with a heavy victory over St Lucia allowing them to pull clear in that particular table.
We last faced New Zealand earlier this year on home soil, when they secured a victory at Crystal Palace. However, the clashes between the top four nations during the group stage showed that it is an increasingly tight contest, and as Jo Harten said: “England are going to put out a massive fight and push New Zealand all the way to get in that final”.
Looking ahead to the semi-final, Head Coach Anna Mayes said: “We will be training, having team meetings and analysis to ensure that we are both physically and analytically prepared, as I think they’ll have some of their big guns back".
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about their injured athletes, but as I would as a coach, I’m sure Taumaunu and her medical team will be being quite aggressive in the treatment of those athletes to try and give them the best chance to be available on Saturday”.
A sell-out crowd is expected to flock to the SECC to see this match and the other semi-final between Australia and Jamaica. Mayes commented “The atmosphere has been amazing so far. We certainly need that support from our England fans as they’re like an eighth player. It’ll be a spectacle of netball and hotly contested, with bodies on the line and flare on court".
“I’ll expect this side to be a lot more consistent and clinical than they’ve been before, and ensuring to convert not only in their given possession but their gained possession. They’ll be putting everything out there on Saturday”.
England have put a lot of effort into the group stage of the tournament, however Mayes is sure that the side will be hitting their full stride when taking on the Kiwis. She said “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t looking at how to get a team to peak at the same time. That’s why it was always about having a squad of 12 and making sure we ran that bench, but again people had to warrant getting out on court and we needed to make sure we had meaningful combinations. The girls are very diligent in the way they recover and we’ve got a brilliant physical prep team”.
“At the end of the day, it’s a semi-final so I’m not sure it’s about what you’ve got in the tank but what you’ve got in the heart”.
The action begins at 10am tomorrow morning and you can tune in on the BBC red button or online to cheer on the team. You can also follow the official England Netball and for live updates throughout the day.