Silver Ferns 57 - England 46 26 Oct 2012
The Silver Ferns overcame a slow start to power home in the second half after England gave them a challenging workout through the first spell. It was a confident finish following the Silver Ferns demoralising 20-goal loss to Australia last weekend.
The Diamonds now remain the only unbeaten team with two legs in New Zealand – Tauranga (Sunday) and Hamilton (Thursday) – to come.
Rejoining the Silver Ferns for the New Zealand legs of the Quad Series Jodi Brown (goal attack) and Camilla Lees (wing attack) were immediately installed in the starting line-up for the England match.
Captain Casey Williams returned to the Silver Ferns line-up for her first international start since last year’s world championships while Cathrine Latu got the nod as the starting goal shoot ahead of Irene van Dyk.
The opening quarter was highlighted by an excess of turnovers with both sides guilty of a lack of accuracy and finishing. Showing a willingness to play with urgency, the Silver Ferns produced an indifferent showing on attack, play often breaking down through miscommunication or poor direction.
Conversely, England once into their stride, were nippy and sharp on attack. There was plenty of inventiveness from Serena Guthrie (centre), Sasha Corbin (wing attack) and Pamela Cookey (goal attack) as they distributed quality ball to their key shooter Jo Harten who propelled her team to a slender 13-12 first quarter lead.
It was more of the same on the resumption with neither team able to gain the edge. Working her way back to full fitness, Williams, in tandem with Katrina Grant, upped the ante, the athletic defender grabbing some trademark steals while Brown got through a big workload outside the circle. However, it was England who made the most of their opportunities, skipping out to a four goal lead which was eventually cut to 26-24 by the main break on the back of an excellent 20 goals from 21 attempts by Harten.
The introduction of popular home town girl van Dyk, Maria Tutaia (goal attack), Kayla Cullen (wing defence) and Leana de Bruin (goalkeeper) coincided with a lift in intensity and tempo from the Silver Ferns in the second half.
Picking up more ball on defence and showing some classy touches on attack, the Silver Ferns put their collective foot down in a defining third quarter. Stronger movement led to greater timing and fluency as the home team looked to break loose. With England gamely hanging on, it was only untimely errors halting the Silver Ferns harnessing their gathering momentum.
These were largely eradicated by the closing stages of the stanza as the Silver Ferns produced a potent finish, forcing England onto the back foot with a telling 17-9 quarter score to take a 41-35 lead heading down the home straight.
England refused to buckle but in the driver’s seat, the Silver Ferns continued to pour on the pressure. The defensive trio of de Bruin, Williams and Cullen out-muscled their opposites to pick off plenty of intercept ball while Tutaia added the polish with her trademark long range accuracy and team work with the irrepressible van Dyk.
At the heart of it all was Langman, at her busiest best in the familiar role of centre, leading the attacking raids and marshalling the troops defensively.
The Silver Ferns next play South Africa in the fifth leg of the series in Tauranga on Sunday.
Main photo credit: NZPA
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