Jess Thirlby asks England’s Vitality Roses to smarten up in attack for second Test

Jess Thirlby has asked her England Vitality Roses to smarten up in attack for second Test against New Zealand, and be more clinical when they take on the world champions again on Friday.

The match, which is live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix and being streamed on YouTube for those in the UK and Ireland, it the second contest of a three-Test series in Hamilton.

The Roses flew out to New Zealand without their head coach, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and went through a significant quarantine period and process before being allowed to take to court.

The opening Test on Wednesday marked the first international netball fixture since January’s Vitality Nations Cup and ended in a 58-45 loss for Thirlby’s Roses.

The world champions led from start to finish, however, they have arrived at the series having played a full ANZ Premiership season and having had a warm-up series with the New Zealand A side, U21s and men’s teams. In contrast, England’s players have not been able to play any competitive matches since March.

New Zealand vs England’s Vitality Roses – Live on Sky Sports & YouTube

As a result of not being able to fly to New Zealand, Thirlby has been forced to take working from home to a new level.

In spite of the time difference, she has not missed watching a training session live and was linked up to Kat Ratnapala and Colette Thomson on the ground throughout the opening Test.

“We should take some credit for the fact that New Zealand weren’t comfortable throughout and I’d like to think that’s down to what we were doing,” Thirlby said to Sky Sports News after the match. “I think we grew into the game which is really pleasing.”

📸: @JessThirlby's setup

The Vitality Roses Head Coach is in constant communication with the rest of the Performance team 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/ReV7MBoWKh

Dame Noeline Taurua, New Zealand’s World Cup-winning coach, was unimpressed by her team and did not hold back with her thoughts about their performance.

“It was great that we got the win on the scoreboard, but [I didn’t make] much of it, if I’m going to be honest,” Taurua said. “I think that I only saw one great passage of play in our attacking end. It was very stilted I feel and got caught up in the body, a bit of the timing was out.

Looking ahead to the second Test on Friday morning, Thirlby also sighted the attack-end as an area that the Roses could improve on.

“Let’s be honest, I think that we were a bit naive at times,” she said.

“In attack, we do know how to play through this New Zealand defence but there were still moments where we fell into a few traps. So, we’re going to need to smarten up on that.

“For me, it was clear that whatever ball we gave them they scored off and turnover ball was hard to find for us. When we did get it, we weren’t clinical enough in taking it to, at least a shooting opportunity, let alone a goal. We’re certainly going to have to work on that.

Thirlby also addressed the fact that her players are coming off the back of a prolonged period out of the game and have a lack of competitive matches under their belts.

“There’s an inevitably where there are moments when we fade a bit physically, let’s be honest it’s a huge undertaking coming into this via the route that we have. We do just need to acknowledge that and that it’s not necessarily something that we can change hugely from game to game.

“However, I think that first match will have already dusted off some of the cobwebs around match-fitness and getting that match-head back on.

“In those moments, when players fade a little bitp physically, that’s when the changes will become important and should be expected. In the context of these three matches, more often than not, changes to the line-up will add value.”

Live netball continues on Sky Sports with the Vitality Roses taking on the Silver Ferns in the second Test on Friday. Join us from 6am on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix and via our stream on YouTube.

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