Silver Ferns Return to Winning Ways in Style
Reversing the result of the opening test, the Silver Ferns ended their season in style with a convincing 52-38 win in the second of the New World Series against England in Palmerston North on Friday.
Losing the first test by four goals, the Silver Ferns went on to retain the Taini Jamison Trophy courtesy of their superior goal differential.
England stayed in touch throughout an entertaining and skilful spectacle until the final quarter when the Silver Ferns cut loose on the back of a growing confidence with a dazzling finishing burst.
After losing key players in recent months, the Silver Ferns broke a six-game losing streak on the back of a superb defensive and much-improved shooting effort as they denied England an elusive first-ever series win.
The Silver Ferns opted for their most experienced shooting duo with the accurate Cathrine Latu joining goal attack Jodi Brown under the hoop while exciting young defender Temalisi Fakahokotau earned her first start in just her second international outing at goalkeeper.
There were few chinks in an experienced England line-up, outstanding defender Geva Mentor, lining up for her 99th test in returning to the venue of her England debut in 2001 as a 16-year-old, well-performed midcourter Jade Clarke and impressive shooter Jo Harten being the key trio for the visitors.
There was a positive intent from the Silver Ferns from the outset as they gained the upper hand through an impressive opening stanza. Crisp and accurate ball movement gave the home team the best of starts.
With captain Laura Langman and Joline Henry adding strong defensive pressure outside the circle, the Silver Ferns did a great job of stalling England’s attacking momentum as the home skipped out to a four-goal advantage.
A bloodied nose forced Latu from the court after six minutes, England leaping at the opportunity to work their way back into contest. The shooter was back on deck for the closing three minutes as the Silver Ferns edged to a 14-11 lead at the last break.
Quick hands, flair and high levels of skill put the Silver Ferns on the front foot on the resumption. With Grace Rasmussen impressive off the centre pass and Langman finding the space, Latu and Brown hit their straps under the hoop with their positioning and finishing accuracy.
Outstanding full court defence from the Silver Ferns put the brakes on England, the silky shooting skills of Harten and defensive prowess of Mentor keeping the visitors in the frame.
With the experienced Leana de Bruin taking over from Fakahokotau midway through the quarter, the Silver Ferns continued to present a black wall on defence, Katrina Grant coming up with valuable turnover ball.
Holding the edge through the stanza, the Silver Ferns stretched out to a 26-21 lead at the main break.
Looking for more penetration and drive, England made changes for the second half with Clarke going to centre and Kadeen Corbin coming off the bench in to wing attack. Weathering the early storm, the Silver Ferns repelled a strong fight-back from England but could not completely shake the visitors.
Hanging on doggedly, England, however, struggled to break the New Zealanders resolve. Latu, showing her full array of handling and footwork skills, and Brown continued their strong performances, adding the polish on the back of a clean and slick delivery.
Langman was an inspiring figure across all areas of the court while the total defensive effort continued to impress, the cumulative pressure taking its toll on England as the home team took a 38-32 lead down the home straight.
England showed their fighting spirit in a goal-for-goal tussle through the opening stages of the final stanza, Harten continuing to shine with her calculated coolness under the hoop and ever-present attention of dogged defender Serena Guthrie, until the Silver Ferns broke the shackles.