Netball: England coach takes pride in side's self-belief

Sue Hawkins
Sue Hawkins
For one coach it was a pinnacle, for the other it was arguably her nadir.

England coach Sue Hawkins orchestrated one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks when her side turned around a 39-point deficit to Silver Ferns in the first test to win the second match 40-38 in Dunedin last night.

Unsurprisingly, she described the victory her most satisfying moment in coaching.

While everyone in the Lion Foundation Arena without an English connection was stunned, Hawkins never stopped believing in her players.

Rather than reading the riot act after they were humbled in the first game of the three-test series, Hawkins worked on their self-belief.

"I think the girls knew that they had a lot more inside of them. There was no point giving them a barrelling.

"They knew that they had let themselves down and they knew they had to dig deep.

"You learn how to win and I think [last night] was a really good example of this group of girls learning how to win.

"Now it's about doing it again and again."

Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken was gracious in defeat but her disappointment was evident.

"England, I thought, really stepped up and we just couldn't do anything right at all," she explained.

Aitken made three changes to the starting line-up from the side which annihilated England in the first test.

But she stuck by her decision despite the result.

"We've made lots of changes in the series and we will continue to.

"I had great faith in the group that was out there and I thought they could do the business.

"The true character of a team is shown after they have a disappointment, so watch out."

In the previous 68 matches between the two sides, England had managed just two wins and two draws.

The New Zealand public are not used to losing to the mother nation and a series defeat would be unpalatable. Aitken knows that.

The Silver Ferns simply must win the series, to be decided in Palmerston North this Saturday.


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