The Vitality Roses lifted the Taini Jamison Trophy on Friday morning after a 45-49 victory over the New Zealand Silver Ferns secured the Cadbury Netball Series.
After a defeat in the opening game, England produced a stunning comeback to win the remaining two matches and complete their first-ever series win in New Zealand.
The Vitality Roses will look to build on this victory back on home soil in November, facing Jamaica in the Vitality Roses Reunited Series in London and Nottingham.
With the series being decided on goal difference, the hosts knew that only a win would allow them to retain the trophy after victory in the same competition last October.
As a result, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Karin Burger came into Noeline Taurua’s Starting VII. England’s Head Coach, Jess Thirlby, made two changes with Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Beth Cobden earning a start.
Captain Serena Guthrie took the first centre pass in Christchurch and her teammates made no mistake in their quest for the opening goal. Laura Malcolm’s pass to George Fisher was converted within a minute.
Turnovers from Geva Mentor and Guthrie meant the visitors were quickly three goals up. The world champions came back after Selby-Rickit collected a loose ball, sparking a run of three consecutive goals from the Silver Ferns to draw level.
The game ebbed and flowed for the remaining five minutes of the first quarter with both teams finding the lead. Strong movement from Maia Wilson, however, gave her the space to make it 12-12 going into quarter two.
New Zealand were proving clinical in the second quarter and were crucially converting their turnovers. Assured shooting in the circle meant that the home team had asserted a narrow advantage.
England, in contrast, were struggling to find a route to goal. Great defensive pressure restricted the team in red to just a handful of goals in the second 15 minutes. With five to go to half-time, they found themselves seven behind.
Thirlby looked to her bench to help change the game, bringing on Eleanor Cardwell at goal attack for Drakeford-Lewis and Fran Williams on at wing defence for Layla Guscoth.
A difficult period for the Vitality Roses just before the interval meant fans saw the biggest difference in a single quarter since the series began, with the Silver Ferns now up by 10 at half-time.
Thirlby’s side came out firing in the third quarter and showed real grit and intent with four unanswered goals from Cardwell to immediately reduce the deficit.
England showed outstanding mental resilience in the third quarter and kept their composure as they continued to get back into the game in impressive fashion, now just four goals behind going into the final 15 minutes.
A great steal from Williams at the start of the final quarter saw the Vitality Roses pick up where they left off with goals from Drakeford-Lewis and Cardwell in quick succession cutting the gap to just two.
With 10 minutes of the series to play and after sustained defensive pressure, the Vitality Roses were back on level terms at 37-37.
England’s confidence continued to grow and, roared on by their teammates on the bench, the seven out on court pushed on with a run of five goals turning the game on its head and seeing the Vitality Roses establish a two-goal lead.
A dramatic comeback from the visitors ensured they had all the momentum going into the closing stages of the series decider. With seconds to play, the Vitality Roses were three up but there was still time for a beautiful one-handed feed from Jade Clarke to help make it four.
That final goal from Cardwell secured a historic, first-ever series win on New Zealand soil with captain Guthrie lifting the trophy after the game.
You can next see England play against Jamaica in November and December with tickets for the Vitality Roses Reunited Series on-sale from 12pm on Thursday 30 September on the England Netball website.