Silver Ferns keep in the contest

NEW Zealand have equalled the Taini Jamison Trophy series with a 21-goal onslaught over an inaccurate England Roses side., who were caught off guard by the strong Kiwi defence, falling 57-36.

The Kiwis started out hot, slotting eight of the first ten goals as the contact penalties started to build up for the Roses in the circle. It was a complete flip of the narrative from Sunday as the Silver Ferns ran circles around the English in both attack and defence.

The Roses shooters just could not find the middle of the ring, ending the game at just 67 percent. Well below the international standard of 90+ in this day in age.

It’s hard not to talk about all the performances Silver Ferns displayed out on court with all seven players willing their respective positions. The shooting was amazing, the midcourters were feeding the ball and winning ball back consistently, and the defenders really spooked the English shooters and forced the cogs to fall apart.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio (21 goals, 18 centre pass receives 14 feeds and 10 goal assists) stepped up to the plate in the first term slotting 10 out of the Ferns 17 goals as debutant Amelia Walmsley (36 goals) started to find her footing on the international stage. Ekenasio had great balance between feeding and shooting while adding her playmaking skills into the mix.

The Silver Ferns attack looked significantly better than what was displayed on Sunday. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (33 feeds, 18 goal assists, one gain) was leading towards the ball rather than bodying up on a player and driving off from there, starting behind the England defensive structure. She looks to be the answer to the Ferns need of a wing attack.

A 17-7 first quarter was all the Silver Ferns needed to energise them for the remainder of the game.

England started to come back in the second quarter after the 10-goal demolition thanks to several four goal runs, but the Silver Ferns continued to push and come out the other side while never dropping their established lead.

The introduction of Berri Neil (18 goals) was really the turning point for England as her court movements continued to work, not allowing time for Kelly Jury (five gains — two deflections, two rebounds and one intercept) to set up her defence. Neiel would drive out to the pocket, hover for a moment while collecting the pass, run or dodge along the baseline, and end up in mid range, slotting the goal majority of the time.

Alicia Scholes (19 feeds and 10 goal assists) and Ellie Rattu were the game changers for the Roses, both playing their roles effectively and slowly kept their oppositions out of the contest. Rattu played more of the smothering style of defence. Rather than her work reflecting on the stats board, it was causing the mistakes from the Ferns middies that led to the turnovers for England.

All of a sudden, that intimidating 10-goal lead turned into four. The second timer was the only one England would win as New Zealand would dominate the roses the other three quarters, not allowing them to hit double digits.

Everything just went right for New Zealand in the second half. It was a 30-13 second half, certainly something to smile about for all the Silver Ferns fans.

Maddy Gordon (25 feeds, 20 goal assists and one intercept) was an absolute workhorse in defence in the air and on the floor, and she was able to get the ball quickly down the other end for hire shooters to score.

Player of the match Phoenix Karaka (seven gains — two intercepts, two deflections and two rebounds) had a major improvement from the first test and seent all of her shooters to the bench. Whenever Jury was out on the hunt outside of the circle, Karaka would always back up her fellow defendere on the circle while playing on three different goal attacks throughout the match. Just goes to show how much physicality can be draining while getting fluid timing in attack.

A six-goal run by the Kiwis in the fourth term gave them some comfortable breathing room and belief that they had won the game.

It all goes down to the third test match on Saturday as whoever wins this next one takes home the Taini Jamison Trophy.

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