Silver Ferns edge England in thrillling semifinal

20:37, Aug 02 2014
Martin Knight and Joelle King
Martin Knight plays a stroke, as team-mate Joelle King watches from behind, against England's Peter Barker and Alison Waters in their mixed doubles semifinal.
Li Feng Yang
New Zealand's Li Feng Yang twists and flips during a dive in the men's 10m platform preliminaries in Edinburgh.
Phil Burrows
The contrasting reactions at the final whistle of Raghunath Ramachandra (left) and Phil Burrows as India defeated New Zealand in the men's hockey semifinal.
Silver Ferns
Silver Ferns players celebrate as England's centre walks off the court in tears after their semifinal.
Ellen Halpenny
Goal shoot Ellen Halpenny lines up an attempt at goal during New Zealand's semifinal victory over England.
Laura Langman
Silver Ferns centre Laura Langman leaps high for a pass against England.
Casey Kopua
New Zealand captain Casey Kopua collides with England wing attack Sasha Corbin.
Silver Ferns
Silver Ferns reserves (from left) Anna Harrison, Leana de Bruin and Shannon Francois celebrate their one-point win with wing attack Liana Leota.
Simon Child
Simon Child dives on the turf to knock a pass away from an Indian player.
Nick Haig
Nick Haig scores from a penalty corner to give New Zealand a 2-0 lead against India.
Stephen Edwards
New Zealand's Stephen Edwards flicks the ball between the legs of India's Raghunath Ramachandra.
Black Sticks
Black Sticks players celebrate their first goal against India from Simon Child (left).
Krystal Forgesson
Krystal Forgesson is tackled by South Africa's Lenise Marais.
Sophie Cocks
Sophie Cocks makes a tackle during the Black Sticks' bronze medal victory over South Africa.
Gemma Flynn and Petrea Webster
Gemma Flynn and Petrea Webster in action during a wet bronze medal contest.
Martin Knight and Joelle King
Martin Knight and Joelle King compete in the mixed double squash semifinals against England.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis sprints for the line in the 1500m final.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis and Julian Matthews made up the Kiwi contingent in the 1500m final.
David Nyika
David Nyika tears up on the medal dais after winning gold in the light heavyweight final.
David Nyika
David Nyika with silver medalist Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius (left) and bronze medalist Sean McGlinchy of Northern Ireland.
David Nyika
David Nyika in action against Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in the light heavy gold medal bout.
David Light
Kiwi David Light evades a punch and look to throw a left hook of his own against Samir el-Mais of Canada.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis flies the New Zealand flag after claiming his third Commonwealth Games medal.
Stuart Farquhar
Stuart Farquhar flings the javelin during the men's final at Hampden Park.

For the second game in a row at these Commonwealth Games, the Silver Ferns found a way to win when they probably shouldn't have but now get a chance to win a third straight gold medal tomorrow.

New Zealand subdued a fired-up England 35-34, with Maria Tutaia slotting the winning goal in the final act of the game.

England, desperate to break their record of three consecutive bronze medals at the Games, were roared on by a parochial British crowd at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre but ultimately fell just short of what would have been just their fourth win over New Zealand in 82 games.

FLAT OUT: Silver Ferns centre Laura Langman flies through the air during the Commonwealth Games against England in Glasgow.
FLAT OUT: Silver Ferns centre Laura Langman flies through the air during the Commonwealth Games against England in Glasgow.

It was heartbreak for England, who also lost by one goal to Australia during pool play.

New Zealand will look back on a game where their accuracy went missing at crucial times and they were unable to win many of the big moments.

There were too many balls sailing out of court and feeders too often had to use the bailout option of a pass back into the centre third - probably not surprising given the injury disruptions the Silver Ferns have had to contend with.


AGONY AND ECSTACY: The Silver Ferns celebrate their nail-biting victory as a dejected English player leaves the court in disbelief.
AGONY AND ECSTACY: The Silver Ferns celebrate their nail-biting victory as a dejected English player leaves the court in disbelief.

''Frustrating, because I felt we did some great defensive work, we took the ball out really well, particularly in the first half, and then came to a halt in and around the circle edge,'' Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu said.

''Having said that I think I have to recognise the efforts of Geva [Mentor] in particular and Eboni Beckford-Chambers, they are an outstanding defensive unit. We always knew it was going to be tough and I think we made it equally tough for their shooters.''

Taumaunu is confident of having Cathrine Latu available after a calf strain for the final against Australia, who defeated Jamaica 57-42 in the other semifinal, tomorrow at 11.30pm (NZ time).

The Silver Ferns started the semifinal against England with the same shooting combination which played against Jamaica, Taumaunu preferring the healthy legs of goal shoot Ellen Halpenny and goal attack Jodi Brown.

Tutaia was able to warm up with the team despite her foot strain, and replaced Halpenny after the first quarter.

The rest of the side was a predictable lineup with Liana Leota, Laura Langman and Joline Henry making up the midcourt and captain Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin anchoring the defensive circle.

As Tutaia struggled to adjust to the game, an increasingly confident England team went on a 6-2 run to lead 16-12 midway through the quarter and the next break saw Katrina Grant replace de Bruin partway through the second quarter.

''I don't imagine Maria would describe it as a vintage performance on her behalf. She took a while to settle into her shooting, she hasn't played for a little while,'' Taumaunu said.

''The issue with injuries in tournaments like this when people miss games, you have to reconnect the flow back in-game and unfortunately the timing of Maria's injury is such that we have to reconnect her in a semifinal. It's something we needed to do, it wasn't an easy thing to do.''

Taumaunu opted to bring Grant into the game as a point of difference given de Bruin, Kopua and Harten were all Magic teammates this season.

''I just felt that Jo [Harten] knew Casey and Leana pretty well and I wanted to put something in there that was a little bit different - a bit more mongrel, and that is Katrina. She really gave the goal attack a hard time and it put our best shot marker and rebounder back in the circle.''

Harten's cool left hand shooting was a soothing balm for the English, while the Mystics-bound Serena Guthrie was a constant nuisance and Beckford-Chambers wasn't far behind.

Langman was carrying English defenders around like a backpacker on a trek to Machu Picchu, while Tutaia started to find her range and the Silver Ferns somehow managed to turn a 19-15 deficit into a 20-19 halftime lead.

Mentor was huge towards the end of the game but New Zealand found a way to get back to level terms heading into the final quarter.

Consecutive held ball calls were the worst possible start the Silver Ferns could have made to the last quarter and England had plenty of chances to win in the dying stages.

Brown had the ball in her hands to settle the game, but when she missed Tutaia was on hand to grab the rebound and put away the winning goal.

Quarter scores (NZ first): 10-10, 20-19, 29-29, 35-34

Shooting stats

NZ: Jodi Brown 6/6 (80%), Ellen Halpenny 4/6 (67%), Maria Tutaia 15/25 (60%)

England: Jo Harten 20/25 (80%), Kadeen Corbin 14/22 (64%)