New Zealand were about a minute away today from the prospect of facing fierce rivals Australia one game earlier than they're anticipating in the Commonwealth Games.

And there was nothing the Silver Ferns could have done about it.

England led the world No 1 Australians throughout their group B game. Had they hung on for the final 30 seconds, that would have been the outcome.

Instead Magic shooter Jo Harten, who had a fine game, missed a key shot. The ball was quickly transferred down the other end and beanpole Caitlin Bassett nailed the shot for a 49-48 win.


So normal transmission resumed, although not without England announcing themselves as serious contenders.

Had England hung on, and the rest of the pool games went to form, they would have faced Jamaica in one semifinal while the other would have been a transtasman showdown.

''This showed we can compete and need to capitalise," star England defender Geva Mentor said.

''We were in control for 59min 30s. It's just those little lapses we need to take care of."

The Melbourne Vixens player spoke of the seam of confidence running through the England team, who enjoyed roaring support from the Scots in the packed arena, as well as a large chunk of English fans.

And Mentor happily poked a stick at the Aussies.

''They've been talking the talk for so long. I hope everyone know we're here and mean business."

England of a few years ago would not have been able to match Australia, and Mentor loves the current environment and approach.

''Absolutely not," Mentor said of the 'old' England.

''In the last couple of years I've seen such a change in this group, not only from the girls playing back home in the super league, but also in the ANZ championship. The fact is we believe we have the skills and today it showed."

England discovered nothing they didn't already know about Australia, she added.

''We knew they were vulnerable and knew we needed to capitalise. I think we probably threw it away in some ways, but we know we can beat them."

New Zealand eased past hosts Scotland 71-14, but had their own feathers ruffled in their opening game against Malawi, a 50-47 squeeze.

Rookie Silver Fern Ellen Halpenny strained an ankle in the Silver Ferns win over Scotland.

She had the injury strapped and iced. There is no ligament damage but it's unlikely Halpenny will be risked in their third group game against Northern Ireland tomorrow.

It was Halpenny's international debut.