Silver Ferns secure Taini Jamison Trophy in Hamilton
The Silver Ferns have taken out the Taini Jamison Trophy with a game in hand after defeating the England Roses 54-47 in Hamilton in the second Test.
Coming off a 13-goal victory in the first Test on Wednesday, the Silver Ferns were stifled by the English Roses in the first half of this match – and found themselves trailing the visitors by two at halftime.
But the New Zealand side pulled out a revitalised performance in the third quarter – looking more like the world champions – and held out the determined English in the final spell.
It was a bittersweet night for one of the outstanding contributors in England’s brave effort, co-captain Serena Guthrie, playing in her 100th Test match. While a fired-up Guthrie rallied her team-mates in their cloying defence and driving attack, she was eventually carried from the court in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
Having pulled the first Test performance apart, Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua opted to stick with her starting seven, but demanded a stronger start from them in this second clash. The Roses, however, had other ideas.
Intense defence from the English from the get-go forced the Silver Ferns to labour to put early points on the board. The visitors found less resistance working the ball through court, and with goal shoot Eleanor Cardwell’s eye in immediately, England took a two-goal lead.
The Silver Ferns continued to struggle to find their connections through the middle of the court, with any space smartly shut down by the Roses, who ferociously defended every New Zealand pass.
New Zealand captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio took on extra work to open up space, force the ball into the shooting circle, and put the ball through the hoop. With wing defence Sam Winders hustling in the defensive third, the Silver Ferns clawed back and snatched the lead just before the end of the quarter, to be 14-12 up at the first break.
England made two key changes going into the second spell, bringing Vicki Oyesola on at goal defence to try to quieten Ekenasio, and George Fisher at goal shoot. Fisher, who will play in New Zealand next year for the Southern Steel, was quick and shrewd around the circle, making herself available for long seeking passes from Guthrie and Laura Malcolm, the match MVP, who also led by example.
The Silver Ferns attempted to start hungrier but were quickly stymied by the incredible swarming defence of the Roses. Looking for a way through, New Zealand made a raft of changes bringing Karin Burger on – first at goal defence, then switching to wing defence - and Claire Kersten introduced at centre.
Having dominated the quarter, 13-9, England led 25-23 at halftime.
Told by Taurua to return to the basics, the Silver Ferns responded immediately in the third quarter.
Whitney Souness replaced Gina Crampton at wing attack, and together with Kersten and Burger, revved up the Silver Ferns attack. The Ferns’ passing was sharper and more decisive, they opened up space, and their movement was more purposeful.
In a complete turnaround, New Zealand scored the first six goals of the quarter, before England even added to their halftime score – a feat that took them five minutes to do. Sulu Fitzpatrick and Jane Watson finally came into their own in the spell, flummoxing the English shooters.
In an unfortunate moment, Guthrie got caught up in a tangle, rolling her ankle and retiring to the sideline. Rather than fall off, the English side briefly rebounded and closed back to within four.
But Silver Fern goal shoot Maia Wilson’s confidence was growing, and she was comfortable to turn and shoot from anywhere in the circle (ending the match with an outstanding 38 from 41 attempts at 93 percent).
Scoring twice as many goals as their Roses rivals in the third quarter (16-8), the Silver Ferns went into the final stanza ahead 39-33.
England continued to switch around their shooting combinations and in response the Ferns brought Kelly Jury on at goal keep for her first court-time in the series. She made an impact straight away claiming two intercepts. The Roses didn’t wilt in the last 15 minutes, scoring almost goal for goal with the Ferns, but New Zealand’s advantage from the third spell was telling in the final result – a seven-goal victory.