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Silver Ferns captain celebrates 100-Test milestone with Series win

Captain Katrina Grant celebrated her 100th Test Match in style by leading the Silver Ferns to a hard-fought 62-55 win in the deciding Taini Jamison Trophy Test Series showdown in Hamilton tonight.

Preserving their proud record in the Taini Jamison Trophy in front of members of the history-making 1967 Silver Ferns team who won New Zealand’s first world championship title in Perth 50 years ago, the Silver Ferns dug deep to keep a spirited England at arms-length.

In what has been a dogged series between two evenly-matched teams, the Silver Ferns broke the 1-all deadlock coming into the decider with strong showings in the first, third and fourth quarters. In doing so, they needed to repel an improved and competitive England before adding the Taini Jamison Trophy to the recent Quad Series triumph.

Playing with the goal shoot bib on her back, Maria Tutaia bounced back from a rare off day in the previous Test with a fluid and accurate opening in tandem with her shooting partner Bailey Mes.

Both teams got away to high quality starts where turnovers were rare. England again impressed with their transitional play on the back of crisp and sharp movement, the Silver Ferns holding their own before a late surge propelled the home team to a handy 17-13 lead at the first break.

It was all England on the resumption, the Silver Ferns going off the boil under a sustained effort from the visitors.

The England midcourt trio of Chelsea Pitman, Serena Guthrie and Stacey Frances were key figures with their ball distribution and defensive disruption while shooter Jo Harten was a towering presence under the hoop.

The Silver Ferns were unable to stem an eight-goal turnaround as England bounced back impressively to forge a 30-26 lead.

The introduction of athletic defender Temalisi Fakahokotau coincided with a forceful reply from the Silver Ferns during a frantic, pulsating and action-packed third stanza.

Scoring the first three goals helped the home team cut England’s lead to just one, the game hanging in the balance as the visitor’s hung on grimly.

With Mes and Tutaia using all their resources to get past the well-versed defensive duo of Geva Mentor and Ama Agbeze and finding their target under the hoop, Fakahokotau and Grant turned the screws at the end.

The Silver Ferns finally regained the lead, keeping their noses in front in an absorbing arm wrestle while England refused to take a backward step. With the sell-out crowd riding every moment, the New Zealanders just kept their noses in front when taking a tenuous 44-43 lead at the final turn.