Silver Ferns retain Taini Jamison Trophy
The Silver Ferns retained the Taini Jamison Trophy with a 59 – 52 victory in the final test of the series.
The match was a hard-fought battle between the Silver Ferns and Vitality Roses, with the visitors taking a 14 – 12 lead in the first quarter. The Ferns were quick to respond, and delivered a commanding second quarter to lead 27 – 24 at half time. Both teams were tested in all areas of the court as the score line tightened to 41 – 39 in favour of the Ferns with fifteen minutes of play remaining. Despite a strong performance from the Roses, New Zealand were clinical to close out the series with a full-time win of 59 – 52
The Trophy is named in honour of former Silver Fern, Taini Jamison who was the first Māori coach of the national team and passed away earlier this year.
A goal-for-goal start drew huge noise from a crowd excited for a competitive decider test match between the Silver Ferns and Vitality Roses. Sasha Glasgow opened the scoring for the Roses, working seamlessly with fellow shooter Berri Neil in the circle to create space and open opportunities. Vicki Oyesola and Halimat Adio’s defensive partnership applied pressure to the Silver Ferns from the off; a number of tips and two key rebounds helped the Roses establish an early lead.
Ellie Rattu at wing defence, Hannah Joseph at wing attack, and Amy Carter at centre consistently played patient balls, displaying confidence in possession and connecting well to help the Vitality Roses edge a 14 – 12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Silver Ferns started the second quarter in demanding style; opening up an early two-goal lead. The Vitality Roses found it harder to reach the circle edge and Elle McDonald came on at the half-way point, replacing Amy Carter in the centre position. The Silver Ferns took a couple of tips to goal, pushing their lead out to five goals.
An energetic rebound effort in the New Zealand circle saw Walmsley and Adio head-to-head, with Walmsley tipping a goal into the net to huge cheers from the crowd. Alice Harvey took the goal keeper bib from co-captain Adio with four-minutes remaining in the first half to offer the New Zealand attack a new challenge. A pinpoint pass into Sasha Glasgow helped the Roses bring the goal difference back to two, and the Roses maintained a steady approach, valuing possession and feeding Neil and Glasgow who effectively split the circle. At half time, New Zealand posted a three-goal lead: 27 – 24.
Despite an early interception from New Zealand, the Roses held steady. A long-ball feed from Hannah Joseph into Neil on the baseline set up the first goal of the quarter. The Roses followed quickly with two further goals to take the score back level to 27 – 27.
The physicality increased between both sides as the clock began to tick down, with balls contested all the way down the court. Shooters at both ends were undeterred, with a long shot from Ekenasio followed quickly by a goal from Neil to keep the score line level. Fast attacking work from the Silver Ferns was hotly pressurized by Ellie Rattu and Elle McDonald who worked as a solid duo.
The Ferns’ Heffernan turned over a crucial England centre pass which enabled Walmsley to find goal and push the Ferns back into a two-goal lead with the quarter closing out 41 – 39 in New Zealand’s favour.
Into the final fifteen minutes of the series, and the crowd became even more vocal to match the increasing intensity. Adio and Oyesola worked to be tight on the Ferns, but Walmsley offered a direct target under the post and opened the lead up to five. This was followed by the Ferns picking up three interceptions in the first five minutes of the quarter which enabled a five-goal run and a seven-goal lead.
Alicia Scholes took to the court in place of Hannah Joseph at Wing Attack to inject fresh legs at the half-way mark and used her ferocious speed to inject the ball into the attacking circle. Harvey back on at goal keeper followed by Jayda Pechova taking the goal defence bib helped change the dynamic in the defensive circle and give the Ferns’ shooters a new challenge to think about.
The Silver Ferns were consistent and clinical as the series closed out, maintaining their seven-goal lead to finish the test with a 59 – 52 victory.
Speaking at the end of the match, co-captain Halimat Adio shared her thoughts on the series:
“I thought it was great. It was very contested; I think we always knew playing against the Silver Ferns it was going to be a challenge but I think we were up for the challenge. We showed our depth and we just showed what we’ve got in our squad.”
Reflecting on the series, Vitality Roses Head Coach Liana Leota said:
“We can take back key learnings; we got lots of players out on court to experience the New Zealand style and also there’s so much evidence that we can capture of winning, of losing, of losing by big margins. The second quarter of test two, that fight and that comeback, and then going goal-to-goal for this last [match] but not getting over the line in the last quarter.”
“I walk away from this series excited. We talked about all our objectives and targets we wanted, and we go home with our cup full. I think we’ve exceeded all of our targets and more. And then I think the exciting thing is we’ve got twelve players sitting at home getting ready to go into camp and looking towards that South Africa series.”
Vitality Roses starting seven: Halimat Adio (GK), Vicki Oyesola (GD), Ellie Rattu (WD), Amy Carter (C), Hannah Joseph (WA), Berri Neil (GA), Sasha Glasgow (GS)
Substitutes: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Alice Harvey, Elle McDonald, Jayda Pechova, Alicia Scholes
New Zealand starting seven: Kelly Jury (GK), Phoenix Karaka (GD), Kate Heffernan (WD), Maddy Gordon (C), Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (WA), Ameliaranne Ekenasio (GA), Amelia Walmsley (GS)
Substitutes: Karin Burger, Tiana Metuarau, Whitney Souness, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson