The Taini Jamison series will go to a decider after a gutsy English side pulled off an impressive 49-46 win over the Silver Ferns in Napier this afternoon.
Just as has been the case in the previous two match-ups between the two sides over the international season, the game was tightly fought throughout, with the outcome decided by crucial moments over the final quarter.
It was the Roses' second win over New Zealand in the space of two weeks, after England toppled the Ferns in their Quad Series match-up late last month. The New Zealand side responded with a strong performance in Thursday night's Taini Jamison opener, recording a 62-55 win in a scoreline that perhaps flattered the homeside.
Bitterly disappointed in their showing in Porirua, England looked the hungrier and more energetic side from the outset. The Ferns were in chase mode from the opening whistle, and while they did well to peg the Roses back every time the visitors threatened to run away with it, the New Zealand side ultimately lacked the speed and precision on attack needed to close out the series.
After trailing 24-27 at halftime, and by as many as six goals during the middle stages of the third period, the Ferns staged a late charge to bring it back to just one goal at the final turn, setting up another thrilling final quarter.
In a low-scoring final quarter it was England that held their nerve, with Jo Harten landing a long-range goal on the final hooter to secure a three-goal win - to the absolute delight of the Roses bench that had remained animated throughout.
England captain Ama Agbeze said after failing to make the most of their opportunities in Thursday night's series opener, she was thrilled her side were able to put things right today.
"I think we had that fighting spirit. Everyone was asked to bring that engergy and lift," said Agbeze.
"Obviously we were in the same position the other night, but we didn't have a successful outcome, but this time we did what we needed to."
England's ferocity on defence once again troubled the Ferns attack, putting the strain on their links through the court as well as their shooting accuracy.
Star shooter Maria Tutaia, who did not look comfortable all game, was benched shortly after halftime after her shooting stats dropped to 50 per cent (8/16) - virtually unheard of numbers for the Ferns vice captain.
In Tutaia's place Te Paea Selby Rickit and Bailey Mes did a solid job, with the latter impressing in the new position of goal attack, but the pair were still reluctant to go straight to the post.Geva Mentor can take much of the credit for the wobbly shooting performance of the Kiwi side, as the star defender delivered a typically classy showing.
But it was athletic midcourter Serena Guthrie that proved the big difference between the two sides. Guthrie hassled and harried the New Zealand midcourt all afternoon, forcing a mountain of turnovers with her strong tracking abilities on defence.
Guthrie finished the match with an impressive 14 pick-ups as she chased down every loose ball.
The Ferns' defence had periods where they made a strong impact, but they were unable to maintain that consistency through the full 60 minutes.
Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby once again tried several defensive combinations, with Temalisi Fakahokotau and Kelly Jury both getting a run at goal keep.
The match featured an unexpected debutant in the form of Claire Kersten, who was a late call-up to the New Zealand side yesterday to provide defensive cover. With three specialist goal keeps selected for this series, it has left Southby light on options at goal defence and wing defence.
The addition of Kersten, who was called in from the Silver Ferns development squad, appeared to be in response to the dominance of England midcourter Chelsea Pitman - a former Australian international - who has developed a handy combination with English shooters Jo Harten and Helen Housby.
Kersten was introduced at halftime in place of Kayla Cullen, who is still working her way back to form after minor knee surgery two months ago.