A valiant England display wasn’t enough to wrestle the Taini Jamison Trophy away from the Silver Ferns in Hamilton this morning.
It was a classic encounter with both sides locked together until the final 10 minutes, when a late New Zealand surge saw them take out a 62-55 victory and, with it, the Series.
Tracey Neville stuck with the same starting seven from Sunday’s stunning win.
The Roses got the decider underway with the first centre pass and moved the ball quickly through court but Jo Harten saw her effort bounce out.
The Silver Ferns capitalised with Maria Tutaia converting the turnover and then adding a second before Helen Housby got the Roses up and running.
Chelsea Pitman continued her fine form from the previous matches and linked up well with Harten.
The mid-courter delivered a lovely disguised feed into Harten, who netted to bring the Roses back on level terms at 6-6, before the GS scored England’s third unanswered goal to put them ahead for the first time in the match.
The attacks were on top in the game and the Pitman-Harten combination was firing on all cylinders with some wonderful movement and passing.
Harten continued to impress with a beautiful long range effort before Stacey Francis flew in with a fine steal and England converted to add to their tally.
With five minutes of Q1 remaining, there was nothing to separate the two sides with the score at 11-all.
A couple of errors started to creep into play. Bailey Mes converted a New Zealand turnover before the Roses were loose in the final third, conceded possession and a Tutaia double put the hosts 16-13 up.
The Silver Ferns continued to punish some scrappy play from the Roses and took a four-goal lead at the end of the first 15.
Neville’s side came out fighting at the start of Q2 and made a strong start with Ama Agbeze pressuring the feed to force New Zealand long and Harten converting.
Bailey Mes displayed her athleticism with an almighty save to collect a rebound and fire the ball back into Tutaia while falling off court. The GS made no mistakes as the hosts pulled clear by five.
The Roses responded though with three unanswered goals from the imperious Harten and the experienced defensive unit of Francis, Ama Agbeze and Geva Mentor clicked into gear, creating turnover after turnover.
England were pumped up and enjoyed a run of five straight goals before the Silver Ferns replied with three of their own to retake the lead at 25-24.
Mentor was everywhere towards the end of the first half – another trademark tip to Pitman set the Roses transitioning through court and Housby applied the finish to hand England a slender 27-25 lead.
More defensive prowess, a quick-fire double from Harten and a goal from Housby capped off a sensational turnaround as the Roses moved ahead by four at the end of the first half.
The Silver Ferns flew out the traps at the start of the second half with three unanswered goals to cut the Roses’ lead to just one.
But Agbeze pounced on a loose ball in the New Zealand shooting circle with Harten completing the move after some fancy footwork.
The Roses continued to make their presence felt with excellent pressure but the Silver Ferns kept their composure to recycle the ball around the circle before Mes netted.
England led 37-35 midway through Q3 but New Zealand continued to peg the visitors back.
After a Housby effort bounced out and Harten was penalised for being out of court, the Silver Ferns went level from an incredible Mes take before going 40-39 up thanks to a cool finish from Tutaia.
There was free-flowing scoring with the match staying on centre pass as the quarter drew to a close but the hosts took advantage of an overcooked pass from Francis and went into Q4 with a 44-43 lead.
Neville opted for a couple of defensive changes at the start of the final 15 with Beth Cobden coming on at WD and Francis dropping back into GD.
It was goal-for-goal at the start of Q4 with Harten holding her nerve with a huge goal from distance before Tutaia kept the hosts on centre-pass.
A clever drive from Housby opened up space for Harten in the circle and she finished with aplomb to make it all square at 47-47.
The hosts moved ahead again though thanks to the classy Tutaia and Agbeze was reintroduced to thwart the threat posed by the GA.
Strong pressure from the Silver Ferns around the circle forced England to wait for the right opening but Harten pulled the deficit back to four at 56-52.
With five minutes left to play, the Roses kept battling to silence the home crowd.
As the tension mounted in Hamilton, the gap was down to just two when Housby held her nerve to net.
But the Silver Ferns accelerated away in the closing stages, sealing the Taini Jamison Trophy with a 62-55 win.
Although there was disappointment at the final whistle, there are undoubtedly plenty of positives for Neville’s side to take from the Series as their preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games intensify.
The England Roses are next in action on home soil against the Malawi Queens this November. Grab your tickets to the three-match Vitality Netball International Series here.
Roses starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Housby, WA – Pitman, C – Guthrie, WD – Francis, GD – Agbeze, GK – Mentor
Silver Ferns starting 7: GS – Tutaia, GA – Mes, WA – Crampton, C – Francois, WD – Cullen, GD – Grant, GK – Jury
Roses: Harten 36/40 (90%), Housby 19/25 (76%)
Silver Ferns: Tutaia 41/52 (79%), Mes 21/21 (100%)
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