New Zealand overturned a half-time deficit to beat the England women’s netball team 54-47 and retain the Taini Jamison Trophy in Hamilton on Friday with a game to spare in the three-Test series.
The highly creditable result was only marred by the England captain, Serena Guthrie, finishing the game on crutches after sustaining an ankle injury early in the second half.
The tourists had made a series of half-time substitutions to give their inexperienced squad some vital play at elite level against the world champions but were soon having their 25-23 lead eaten into as their opponents rammed home their advantage.
The 58-45 defeat in the first Test on Wednesday was the first action in eight months for many of the Vitality Roses players and New Zealand’s strength in depth and match fitness were the deciding factors again.
Kat Ratnapala, the England assistant coach, said: “It was half the deficit from the last Test to this Test, so I’m really proud of the girls for coming out. That third quarter was costly for us. But massive positives again that we’ll take.”
Discussing the slew of half-time substitutions, Ratnapala said: “Some are preordained – speaking to Jess back home and having some thought process around when we’re going to be bringing people on. But it is also a feel. We need to go with the gut and also what’s going on in front of us, not just pre-planned changes. It’s great to get the players out there.”
Shannon Saunders had got the game under way once again for the hosts, who went into the second Test full of confidence after their win in the opening fixture, and they scored the first goal of the game.
The Vitality Roses came out more determined after their last defeat, were quick to respond to going behind and snuck ahead by two goals to make it 14-12 after the opening 15 minutes. The addition of George Fisher and Vicki Oyesola into the game quickly brought dividends and the Roses went into half-time with their narrow advantage.
Six successive goals put New Zealand back in the lead in the second half and by the time Guthrie went down following the collision that resulted in her injury the game had effectively been lost. The teams meet again on Sunday in the final Test.