Key Points:

Finding the antidote to the Silver Ferns' suffocating defence will be a key part of England's preparations ahead of the second netball test in Dunedin tomorrow night.

The English fell to a humbling 65-26 defeat in Auckland last night, a result that belied their competitiveness in a 2-0 series loss to world champions Australia this month.

England coach Sue Hawkins pointed to the Silver Ferns' defence as the most impressive aspect of their performance and she believed the credit should go to new assistant coach Waimarama Taumaunu.

"New Zealand certainly stepped up and put a huge defensive zone on us," she said.

"We didn't step up to the mark and think smart out on the court."

Hawkins said the withdrawal of key defender Geva Mentor after she turned an ankle in training was a big loss, but it wasn't the decisive factor in the defeat.

"We couldn't penetrate through the middle of the court and we'll have a look at what they stopped us doing."

Because of that lack of penetration, Hawkins said, her team didn't put up enough shots, while they also gave up intercepts as quickly as they got them.

She said the England camp was trying to be positive about Mentor's prospects of being available for the rest of the three-test series.

"She's walking on it and she can hop on it, so we are really trying to see if she's ready to go," she said.

New Zealand won every quarter comfortably to avenge their surprise defeat in Manchester 17 months ago, the last time the two countries met.

They raced out of the blocks to lead 16-7 after a first quarter in which shooters Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia didn't miss a shot.

Van Dyk, who was on court throughout, firstly as goal shoot then in her new position of goal attack, finished with the best New Zealand figures of 38 goals from 40 attempts.

Overall, the Silver Ferns' three shooters of van Dyk, Tutaia and Daneka Wipiiti had an 85 per cent success rate.

That compared with the 68 per cent for the English trio of Louisa Brownfield, Pamela Cookey and Rachel Dunn.

Cookey, who was unavailable for the tests against Australia because of work commitments, was a disappointment, converting just three of her 10 chances.

Given the stingy nature of New Zealand's defence, it came as little surprise that the player of the match award went to a defender, wing defence Joline Henry.

Coach Ruth Aitken also highlighted what her players did without the ball as being a major part of the victory.

"The pressure on defence was outstanding," she said.

She said the team had been working hard under Taumaunu on having that pressure right through the court.

"Waimarama has been making sure of that and that really has made such a difference," she said.

"It sets the platform and it makes those circle defenders look good when they come through for the intercept."

Meanwhile, van Dyk believed England's hopes were significantly dented by Mentor's absence on court.

"Just her experience, her reading of the game and her putting the shooters under pressure on the lean of the shot," she said.

"I do think they missed her a lot."

- NZPA