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Late surge not enough in Taini Jamison Trophy opener

The Silver Ferns left their best until last but could not stop a well-performed England claiming a 55-54 win in the first of the three-test Taini Jamison Trophy series against England in Christchurch on Sunday.

Looking to bounce back in their first outing since a disappointing Netball World Cup campaign, the Silver Ferns took too long to find their groove and adjust against a well-prepared England side.

Showing greater impetus and energy on attack while also clinching some vital turnover ball, the Silver Ferns produced a stirring fourth quarter but had given England too much latitude early on and the Roses were good enough to repel the challenge.

We brought 100 percent energy in that last quarter and we need to bring that from the start,” Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio said.

I’m not sure why that was missing because we’ve got a group that are like energiser bunnies. We’ve got more to give and we’ve got to bring that to the next game. We just can’t put ourselves in that position but I’m glad we did get it right and now know what it feels like.

We sold ourselves short and I can’t wait to put it right in the rest of the series.”

Ekenasio was the individual standout for the Silver Ferns with 39 shots from 41 attempts playing both shooting roles as the team look to rebound in Wednesday’s second test in Porirua.

In a series which has special significance for the women in black, the Silver Ferns were playing for the first time since the passing of Taini Jamison earlier this year, the inaugural series being held in 2008, and which honours the memory of a pioneer, who contributed so much to netball.

Against a largely unfamiliar England team with many on debut, the Silver Ferns offered a reasonably settled line-up with an exciting mix in the midcourt. The fleet-footed Whitney Souness (wing attack) and Karin Burger (wing defence) anchored the respective wings with Kate Heffernan taking up the centre’s bib.

The Silver Ferns, with Ekenasio in sparkling form from range under the hoop, took the early initiative to build a four-goal buffer before an increasingly confident England steadied the ship while mustering a worthy challenge.

Calm, patient and clinical, England closed the gap with the Silver Ferns guilty of too many turnovers when holding a tenuous 13-12 lead at the first break.

With nothing to lose, England showed their spirit through their timing and structure to inflict a dominant second 15 minutes.

Maddy Gordon was injected at centre for the Silver Ferns. Her speed and energy adding impetus for the home side before England pounced on the Silver Ferns lack of flow and poise to forge into the lead.

Jane Watson was also introduced at goalkeeper for the Silver Ferns in a bid to minimise the impact of influential goal attack Sasha Glasgow but the visitors remained unbowed.

Feeding off Silver Ferns errors, England enjoyed more possession with 35 shots at goal during the first half compared to the Silver Ferns 26 and with it a healthy 29-23 lead at the main break.

The Silver Ferns made multiple positional and personnel changes for the third quarter but, again, it was England who made better use of their opportunities as they continued to play with pace and flair.

The visitors’ defensive trio of Amy Carter, Vivki Oyesola and Halimat Adio did a fine job of restricting the Silver Ferns momentum on attack, Ekenasio being the shining light under the home side’s hoop through her shooting accuracy and positional play.

With England stretching out to a nine-goal lead, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was injected at wing attack for the Silver Ferns, the home side making small inroads when England led 43-37 at the last turn but still with a big mountain to climb.