The England Roses relentless defence ensured that the 2017 Taini Jamison Trophy would be decided in the final match of the series.

The Roses constant pressure on the Silver Ferns attacking end, and new combinations, were telling. More importantly for the Roses, the attacking end showed continued improvement with the speed of the ball around the circle edge and flow through court.

 

Starting lineups

New Zealand
GS – Bailey Mes
GA – Maria Tutaia
WA – Grace Rasmussen
C – Shannon Francois
WD – Kayla Cullen
GD – Katrina Grant
GK – Temalisi Fakahokotau
Bench – Jane Watson, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Claire Kersten, Gina Crampton, Kelly Jury

England
GS – Jo Harten
GA – Helen Housby
WA – Chelsea Pitman
C – Sara Bayman
WD – Serena Guthrie
GD – Ama Agbeze
GK – Geva Mentor
Bench – Jade Clarke, Kadeen Corbin, Stacey Francis, Eleanor Cardwell, Beth Cobden

Umpires – Josh Bowring, Marc Henning, Angela Armstrong-Lush

 

Both teams started this match with the same teams that started the last quarter of the first test. For the Ferns it was another opportunity for Temalisi Fakahokotau to inject her powerful ability to pull in ball and for Grace Rasmussen to re-establish her feeding connections with Bailey Mes and Maria Tutaia.

The match began with uncharacteristic misses by Tutaia, and then Helen Housby. It was Jo Harten who was able to tame the responsive rims by sinking the first two goals of the match. The defensive pressure from Geva Mentor, Ama Agbeze, Serena Guthrie and Sara Bayman ensured that the Silver Ferns did not have an easy path to circle edge.

Rasmussen’s use of back spin on the ball created a couple of beautiful passes into her shooters, but missed shots from the usually reliable Tutaia, and off balanced rebounds by Mes, resulted in the Silver Ferns unable to get their noses in front on the score board for the first half.

The Roses’ attack end were able to create space for each other, with Kayla Cullen unable to contain Chelsea Pitman, who continued to supply ball into the Roses shooters with relative ease.

Fakahokotau was dynamic for the homeside in defence, pulling in two intercepts, three deflections and a rebound to ensure the Ferns were only down by a goal heading into the second quarter.

England coach Tracey Neville made one change heading into the second quarter, moving Guthrie into C and bringing Stacey Francis onto WD. The Roses resumed with intensity and through misses from Tutaia and Mes were able to extend out to a five goal buffer within the first three minutes.

The Ferns maintained their defensive pressure with a number of forced turnovers ensuring they were in touch with the Roses throughout the quarter. A number of substitutions were made with five minutes remaining in the first half – Jury replaced Fakahokotau, Crampton entered the game for Rasmussen and Mes and Tutaia swapped bibs.

The Roses maintained their composure and were able to extend their lead to three goals by half time. Tutaia, who’s radar was slightly off, had only netted 50% of her shots for the half and highlighted the risk-or-reward for her style of play.

The second half started with another change by the Silver Ferns with Claire Kersten taking her first Silver Fern cap, replacing Cullen at WD. Surprisingly, Tutaia was still on at the start of the quarter, however after a bad pass she called for time to be replaced by Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

The Ferns’ flair, speed and momentum against the Australian Diamonds was restricted, tormented and harried by the Roses for the first part of the third quarter. Their lead extended out to seven goals, however Jury was instrumental in providing essential turnover ball for the Ferns. Her height providing enough doubt into the England feeders, and the ability to pressure the shot over the last half of the third quarter enabled the Ferns to close the gap. A missed shot by Mes in the last play of the quarter allowed England to maintain a slim advantage heading into the final term.

Beth Cobden entered the game at WD for England, with Francis shifting to GD to partner Mentor in the defensive circle. The fresh legs of Cobden and her ability to compete for the ball provided a key lift for the Roses in the final period.

The Silver Ferns defensive end started to gel with Kersten making an impact in the game, and combining well with Grant. The Ferns were able to get the lead on several occasions in the final quarter, however intercepts at key moments from Mentor and deflections from Cobden provided enough breathing space for the Roses to play the final minute down.

Harten and Housby continue to build an important connection for the Roses over the first two matches of the series and the ability of Pitman to create space and link to her shooters has been a key to the success of the Roses.

Solid in defence and building in attack, the Roses now head into the deciding test as slight favourites to take out the Taini Jamison Trophy for the first time. To do so would provide belief in a team that has always shown potential, but never delivered when it mattered at a Commonwealth Games, or the World Cup.

For the Ferns, the attacking end is where improvement is required. When Tutaia is accurate and firing in shots from all parts of the goal circle, she is difficult to stop, however it has become evident that Maria is human after all and that is the time the coaches need to step in and make a change. In this instance, the change happened too late.

The combination of Mes at GA and Selby-Rickit at GS is developing and provides a strong option, but how they work together inside the circle, especially when they have a defender out of play, needs more work. Selby-Rickit needs to provide a better holding position, or clear the space to give the defenders more to think about. The connections in the Silver Ferns attacking end will be key, should they want to retain the Taini Jamison Trophy.

 

England 49 def New Zealand 46
Player of the match
– Serena Guthrie (England)

 

England
Harten 25/32 78%
Housby 24/32 75%
49/64 77%

New Zealand
Mes 26/30 87%
Tutaia 8/16 50%
Selby-Rickit 12/15 80%
46/61 75%