Netball: Aitken predicting England revival

Mix a little Kiwi brilliance with a generous heaping of English blundering and you have the recipe for a lop-sided test.

The Silver Ferns walloped England 65-26 in the first installment of the three-game series in Auckland on Monday night but Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken is adamant it will not be as easy when the second test gets under way in Dunedin tonight.

For the casual observer it looked as if the Silver Ferns were simply too fast, too skilful and too clever for their opponents.

An imbalance not easily addressed, especially when you only have two days to turn a performance around.

But for Aitken's more discerning eye the gap is by no means insurmountable.

"It didn't actually feel that easy. If you were out there in that shooting circle the defence still made it pretty tough," she told the Otago Daily Times.

"England were certainly a little shell-shocked but I know they'll bounce back.

"It is amazing what 48hrs can do to a team and a lot of it is just about looking at their strategy and attitude. If they get Geva Mentor back she will make a big difference for them."

Classy defender Mentor was sorely missed and without her presence in the circle the Silver Ferns shooting duo of Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia quickly seized the initiative.

The pair shot flawlessly, landing all 16 of their attempts in what was a remarkable first quarter by the home team.

England by stark contrast was struggling to get the ball to its shooters and never manage to score more than eight in quarter. A bleak effort.

Highly-rated goal attack Pamela Cookey had a disappointing night for the tourists, landing just three of her 10 attempts.

"She is a very skilful player but I think the reality is she'd got off a plane three days earlier and that was not particularly helpful. And I think defensively we put a lot of pressure on her."

While England was below par, Aitken was quick to point out her side had disrupted the opposition's game plan and executed its own very well.

"The Silver Ferns had a great game and we were very determined to take a step up from the Australian series."

Despite the blow-out victory, Aitken said complacency would not be an issue for her side.

"This team is hugely competitive just to get the spots out on court and they have such huge pride, so I can absolutely guarantee there will be no complacency. They know they have to put another good performance out."

Aitken will resist making wholesale changes to the starting line-up but hinted there could be the odd tweak.

Dunedin-based defender Katrina Grant impressed in her debut last month and shooter Paula Griffin is the only member of the 12 who has not seen any court time during the international series.

The temptation to start with the players who delivered on Monday is likely to be just as great as the development argument, though.

Sealing the series will be overriding goal and experimentation may have to wait until game three in Palmerston North on Saturday.



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