The England Roses took a thrilling 49-46 victory over New Zealand in Napier this morning to level the Taini Jamison Trophy at 1-1 heading into the deciding match on Wednesday.
A six goal lead for England midway through the third quarter was overturned by the Silver Ferns but the Roses hit back in the final two minutes to grab an astonishing win.
A late pick-up from Geva Mentor was the catalyst for an England rally as the shooters held their nerve to finally end the resistance from a dogged New Zealand display.
Tracey Neville named the same starting seven that took to the court in the opening match of the Series and they immediately repaid the faith shown in them.
A miss from Maria Tutaia was pressured by the defensive combination of Mentor and England captain Ama Agbeze to give England side line ball.
It was converted at the other end by Jo Harten and the Roses gained the early momentum. As the hosts continued to struggle in attack, England held their nerve to move 6-2 ahead.
The cross court pressure was telling as both Serena Guthrie and Sara Bayman disrupted New Zealand passing to steal possession back.
Heading into the final five minutes of the quarter, the gap remained at four with the Roses moving 10-6 clear.
The home side responded in the mid-court and England were forced into a couple of passing errors as the Ferns hit back to reduce the gap to 13-12 at the end of the opening quarter.
A change was made for the visitors for the second set of fifteen as Stacey Francis was introduced at WD with Guthrie switching to C.
It paid instant dividends as Agbeze ghosted in for a tip and Francis collected. A Harten double and a fine finish from Helen Housby had England five goals clear.
In a game where defences were on top, the Ferns pressure created turnover ball and the gap was reduced to two as the interval loomed.
With seconds left on the clock, Harten received a feed and took a quick glance to make sure both feet were in the circle. Once this was confirmed she sent home a sumptuous shot as England took a 27-24 lead into half-time.
The third quarter saw England explode from the blocks with Francis showing relentless energy to force possession into the visitors’ hands.
A clever bounce feed into Housby from Harten saw the Roses go six goals clear.
Changes were made for the hosts with Te Paea Selby-Rickit replacing Tutaia and back came the Silver Ferns.
Kelly Jury was in fine form after taking the GK bib and her excellent work inspired the home side to wipe out the advantage and draw us level at 36-36 late in Q3.
A late Housby finish gave England the most narrow of advantages going into the final fifteen minutes, 38-37.
Beth Cobden entered the action in the final quarter as she moved into WD with Francis replacing Agbeze at GD.
However, New Zealand continued with the momentum from the previous quarter as they moved into the lead for the first time in the match following a tip from Ferns debutant Claire Kersten.
The Roses could have let their heads drop but instead responded superbly as the game started to hang in the balance with both sides taking turns in front.
All across the mid-court Guthrie was picking up loose passes and pushing England forward. With three minutes to go the sides were locked together at 45-45 but New Zealand crucially had the centre-pass advantage.
The defensive unit of the Roses again put the Ferns attack under incredible pressure and with two mins to go, Mentor emerged with the ball.
A lightning attack ensued with Chelsea Pitman finding Harten to net. A converted centre-pass added some breathing space.
Excellent time management when in possession saw England recycle the ball and see out the game.
A late desperate attempt from New Zealand to reduce the gap allowed the Roses defence to create one more turnover and for Harten to score one final long range effort and put the gloss on a battling, determined performance from England.
Player of the Match following a fantastic display in the mid-court was Serena Guthrie.
The final match of the Taini Jamison Trophy takes place on Wednesday morning from 8:30am (BST) and will be LIVE on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix.
Silver Ferns starting 7: GS – Mes, GA – Tutaia, WA – Rasmussen, C – Francois, WD – Cullen, GD – Grant, GK – Fakahohotau
Roses starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Housby, WA – Pitman, C – Bayman, WD – Guthrie, GD – Agbeze, GK – Mentor
New Zealand: Mes – 26/30: 87%; Tutaia – 8/16: 50%; Selby-Rickit – 12/15: 80%; Team: 46/61: 75%
England: Harten – 25/32: 78%; Housby – 24/32: 75%; Team – 49/64: 77%
For further stats please visit – http://www.mynetball.co.nz/silver-ferns/match-day/new-world-netball-series-taini-jamison-trophy/game-2.html
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.