Blackpool’s Eleanor Cardwell shines despite England losing Vitality Netball Nations Cup tie with New Zealand
Coach Jess Thirlby praised Blackpool’s Eleanor Cardwell despite England losing 64-48 to New Zealand in their Vitality Netball Nations Cup opener.
Cardwell featured in the match at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, the two sides’ first meeting since the 2019 World Cup semi-final.
It also brought a debut for Manchester Thunder’s Amy Carter, though Thirlby was impressed at the link-up play between Cardwell and George Fisher.
“We know George can come off the bench and have an impact and the combination of her with Eleanor Cardwell gave them something to think about and gave us a bit of height in the circle,” she said.
“I was pleased with that and it was great to let it run for a while, but some of these partnerships haven’t played full matches and when you’re playing the world champions you can’t leave it out there for the whole game.”
Things were neck and neck for much of the first two quarters, with the Kiwis edging ahead 28-25 at the end of the half.
But the reigning world champions proved too much to handle as the game went on, eventually winning by 26 points.
“We gave a good account of ourselves in the first half and in moments in the third quarter we pulled it back but ultimately we made a few too many errors,” Thirlby said.
“We were a bit hesitant sometimes in the attacking areas and defensively we got caught out a few times but we won enough ball, it was quite even going into half-time but fair credit to New Zealand in the second half.”
The visitors were strong defensively in the first quarter, as they put pressure on the Roses which forced a number of errors, as they ended the first period 15-11 to the good.
The lead was stretched as far as eight points at one stage in the second quarter, before the introduction of Fisher saw a flurry of goalscoring to leave the hosts trailing by just three at the midway point.
New Zealand put their foot on the pedal after the interval however, and extended their lead to 10 points, with Maia Wilson clinical when given the chance to score.
As the game drew to a close, England were guilty of trying to force the ball forward, but with little success, as New Zealand eventually saw the game out.