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Silver Ferns bounce back strongly to level Taini Jamison Trophy

The Silver Ferns responded in the best possible fashion to post a comprehensive 57-36 win over England to keep the Taini Jamison Trophy series alive in Porirua on Wednesday.

Following a disappointing one-goal loss to England 72 hours earlier, the Silver Ferns were relentless through three-quarters in the second match-up, a blistering start and finish putting a statement on their performance while effectively dismantling any chance of a repeat from the visitors.

With plenty riding on the outcome and In a nod to the future, exciting teenaged talent Amelia Walmsley capped a dramatic rise in the ranks during 2023 to become Silver Fern #184 when handed the goal shoot bib to launch her international career.

There were other changes in the midcourt for the Silver Ferns starting seven with fleet-footed duo Maddy Gordon and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan linking at centre and wing attack, respectively, while Kate Heffernan slotted in at wing defence.

England retained the same starting seven as they employed in the first test win.

The Silver Ferns retained their starting seven for the entirety of the match and apart from a wobbly second quarter dictated terms while keeping England to single digit figures for the first, second and fourth quarters.

Walmsley with 36 shots from 41 attempts and captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio 21 from 23, ensured the Silver Ferns had superior shooting percentages which played a key hand while more resistance on defence, where turnover opportunities and intercepts were turned into goals, knocked the wind out of England’s challenge.

There’s definitely a ton of relief, I was really proud of everybody tonight,” Ekenasio said.

It was time for us to show a bit of heart, a bit of mongrel and show what’s really in our bellies. There were still some lapses in the game. We’re not perfect yet, so we’ll go away and look at that and try and be better for Saturday’s third test.”

The Silver Ferns couldn’t have asked for a better start, firing on all cylinders at both ends of the court with the missing ingredients of the first test, urgency, intensity and energy highlighting the mood.

Bursting out to a 3-0 start, the Silver Ferns defence restricted the movement and options of England’s attackers with Kelly Jury and Phoenix Karaka providing a menacing presence to create plenty of turnover opportunities.

At the other end, Reuelu-Buchanan and Gordon were full of running to put the Silver Ferns on the front foot with a constant supply of ball heading the shooters way. Ekenasio had another sparkling start with a flow of shots from long range.

Walmsley warmed her way expertly into the game, her growing confidence helping the Silver Ferns finish the quarter in style when leading 17-7.

Lacking ball, England made changes for the second quarter with goal shoot Berri Neil, wing attack Alicia Scholes and wing defence Ellie Ratu making their presence felt in a momentum-swinging second quarter shift.

Contesting more ball on defence while finding their flow on attack, England fought back strongly, scoring a flurry of goals while shutting down the Silver Ferns supply.

England’s shooting percentages rose significantly in the second quarter, a finishing run of five straight goals giving impetus to the visitor’s cause. Having 31 shots at goal apiece, the Silver Ferns had their lead trimmed to 27-23 at the main break.

The Silver Ferns regained the impetus during a dominant third quarter, well set up by a 6-1 start. Heffernan and Gordon hunted relentlessly through the midcourt while Karaka and Jury gathered in vital rebound ball.

Livewire centre Gordon was in the thick of action at both ends, hustling effectively on defence while delivering some pinpoint feeds to shooter Walmsley. Ekenasio provided the perfect captain’s knock in sinking key shots while also taking the heat off her young shooting partner.

Wresting back the initiative, the Silver Ferns limited England to just seven goals during the 15-minute spell to take all the momentum into the run home when leading 39-30 at the last turn.