The prospects are exciting heading to Hamilton but it's fair to say, like it is in rugby, it's the silly season in netball, too.

With an eye to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Cup next year, the Silver Ferns and England Roses are fine tuning their systems akin to mechanics putting vehicles through a warrant of fitness appraisal at a VTNZ branch station near you.

Are the indicator, headlights, tyre treads and wiper blades in good nick?

After the 49-46 victory over New Zealand in Napier last night, the verdict is England also need to tick a few more boxes as they head to Claudelands Arena for the decider to see who etches their name on the Taini Jamison Trophy three-match series.


Psychologically the tourists will have a spring in their steps after winning their second match in the space of a few weeks outside the trophy series but are the Kiwis calling their bluff?

It's hard to fathom sharp shooter Maria Tutaia can just go off the boil in the space of a game but it's nothing a little bit of air in the tyres can't fix - although Bailey Mes, as one would expect, stepped up with aplomb.

England coach Tracey Neville is averse to the idea of singling out game changers but there's nothing more one can write about the prowess of goalkeep Geva Mentor that prudent fans can't see and decipher for themselves.

Of course, it's no slight on the rest of the in-your-face red machine of captain Ama Agbeze (GD), Serena Gutherie (WD), Chelsea Pitman (WA) and centre Sara Bayman.

Nor is it a slight on Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant (GD), Kayla Cullen (WD), Grace Rusmussen (WA) and New Zealand's feisty centre, Shannon Francois.

You see, what should concern Neville is New Zealand's depth. Counterpart Janine Southby didn't hesitate to whip out comeback kid Tamalisi Fakahokotau (GK) or Tutaia at the slightest signs of some exhaust fumes.

The potential in four-cap Fakahokotau is undeniable but she's got a wee way to go to be court savvy but there was something about six-cap Kelly Jury's presence the second she took over the shift from her.

Southby also replaced Tutaia (50 per cent) with Te Paea Selby-Rickit (80 per cent) early in the third quarter after the former's bib swap with Mes (game-high 87 per cent) didn't seem to work either.

Ditto development squad member Claire Kersten, 28, a Central Pulse WD, who made her debut off the bench.

On the flip side, Neville seemed reluctant to pull out a visibly spent and battered Helen Housby (75 per cent) to inject unused Kadeen Corbin or Eleanor Cardwell in the shooting circle.

The sluggish start from the Ferns, similar to the Porirua one although they won that 62-55 on Wednesday, should be of some concern to Southby but not if the directive was to go out there to let the opposition get a sniff and then show fighting qualities to whittle away at a decent lead, as teams do in playoffs.

"It's just that pressure kept building and building and I thought we were okay in that last quarter. Unfortunately a couple of errors allowed them to open the door again," the coach said after the capacity crowd had left Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.

But she didn't think a pattern was setting in.

She felt when the collective energy was channelled into regaining possession the propensity to combust increased.

"We know they're all over us but that's international netball so you've got to keep chirping. When we got hesitant, that's when they really started getting at us."

She labelled Tutaia's effort as "uncharacteristic" but fans know the "poker-faced perfectionist" will be back when it matters. Class acts don't lose the plot overnight.

"Bailey and Teps [Selby-Rickit] stepped up again to work really hard to get that movement back in the circle again," Southby said.

It pleased her that Kersten, bracketed in as cover for Cullen, tightened up in defence and offered glimpses of facets of play not always that apparent.

Hesitancy in letting the ball go bothered her but England's defence, at times, was outstanding and prompted the Ferns to back pedal amid aggression and physicality (reflected in the 55-37 penalty contact count).

Grant said they had gifted GS Joanne Harten (78 per cent) and Housby too much space to find some rhythm.

"I think we started picking it up slowly but surely but, unfortunately, they didn't let us get back in the fourth quarter like we did the other day," she said.

What made Neville beam with pride was her girls' ability to hunker down when the momentum shifted to the Kiwis.

"We talked about righting the wrongs and I think we did that today," she said, impressing the need to keep the foot on the opposition's throat in a clinical fashion, in contrast with what they failed to do in Porirua in the final quarter.

Neville said Corbin and Harten had played together in the Quad Series and it was about nailing relationships.

"We're here for the long term ... it's not just a free fall and we can't start chucking players on the court."

Agbeze said it was about pace, mental fortitude and raising the physicality stakes when the tank was running on near-empty level.

"I feel what I'm seeing with the England team in the series is that they actually have the capacity to maintain a game for 60 minutes," she said, delighted with how the bench players rolled on to find traction with some ease to maintain the intensity.

Agbeze thought they had got to Tutaia mentally to zone her out and throw her off her tempo.

"It's not just about her making her shots but it's about making her wary of going for the post and she'll want to shoot ... when you get to her head she'll get the ball and look to pass and looking at what she wants to do but she's not that confident."

However, England's shooting depth will come under scrutiny if either Harten or Housby has an off day because the latter doesn't bring the same mongrel the former does owing to her stint in the defunct ANZ Transtasman Championship.

Not one to pull out knuckle dusters, Mentor also brings an air of calmness and stability that her fellow defenders feed off but take her out and, dare I say it, it'll be interesting to see how that cohesiveness will stack up.

The "real" games, it seems, won't begin until Gold Coast early next year but, suffice it to say, England have put their hand up to be among the top three in the world with the Kiwis and Australia Diamonds.