If the 4-0 series loss to Australia did not already make it apparent enough, England last night reminded the Silver Ferns of the task they have ahead of them before next year's World Cup, delivering the New Zealand side another confidence-sapping defeat in Rotorua.

While the Ferns were generally outplayed across the court in the Australian series, the difference between them and the England side in Rotorua last night boiled down to one key statistic - shooting percentages.

The Ferns converted just 62 per cent of their shots at goal, with unsteady performances in-goal from Bailey Mes, Jodi Brown and Ameliaranne Wells killing any chance of the beleaguered Kiwi side ending their now six-game losing streak. New Zealand had more than enough opportunities to win the match - putting up 10 more shots at goal than England, only to still lose by four.

Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu's frustration at her shooters' inability to put the ball through the net was evident following the match.


"Fundamentally I thought we should have won tonight and we didn't, and that is far harder to take [than the Constellation Cup losses]," said Taumaunu.

The Ferns have just two days to start finding solutions to their shooting crisis, with England on the verge of an historic series victory on New Zealand soil in Friday's second and final test in Palmerston North.

Taumaunu said she and assistant coach Vicki Wilson will need to sit down with the shooters and work out what can be done to help them better cope under the intense pressure of English defenders Geva Mentor and Eboni Beckford-Chambers.

"They don't go out there aiming to miss, and I know how hard they work behind the scenes to try and be accurate so it's very difficult to be as frustrated as I am, which I am.

I think what we have to do is remain composed and calm and recognise the work that is going in. I think we're close and I will be conveying that message to them, it's about just turning a corner for them I think."

It will be of cold comfort to Taumaunu, but the four-goal loss could have been much worse, with the visitors leading 38-28 early in the final spell, before the Ferns charged back in the last 10 minutes, closing to within one goal with just over three minutes remaining.

But the experienced English line-up, led by ANZ Championship stars Mentor (Vixens) and shooter Jo Harten (Magic) held firm in the dying stages to put the horrors of their one-goal loss to the Ferns in the Commonwealth Games final behind them. On that occasion England held a handy six goal lead heading into the final period only to allow the injury-ravaged New Zealand side to steal the win at the death.

While it was only their fourth win against the Ferns in 83 meetings, the celebrations in the England camp following the win was reasonably subdued.

"There's no celebration to be had, because we weren't able to do the job [at the Commonwealth Games], so I think we were responding to that - it was more kind of like job done rather than big celebration," Harten explained.

Harten said her side were disappointed they took the foot off the pedal in the final stages of the match and will be looking for a much more consistent performance in Palmerston North on Friday.

"We're not backing off now - we're still hurt by the Commonwealth Games and we want to come out firing again in the next game," she said.


New Zealand

Bailey Mes 25/35

Jodi Brown 6/13

Ameliaranne Wells 7/13


Jo Harten 30/36

Rachel Dunn 9/10

Kadeen Corbin 3/4.

Silver Ferns 38
England 42