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Tutaia steers Ferns to third Test win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/09/2017 Cathy Walshe

Maria Tutaia of New Zealand during the International Test match against England. © Getty Images Maria Tutaia of New Zealand during the International Test match against England. A refocused Maria Tutaia and a re-motivated midcourt have galvanised the Silver Ferns to a series-winning 62-55 victory over England at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.

Tutaia had an uncharacteristic sub-par performance three days ago when New Zealand lost the second Taini Jamison Trophy match 49-46 in Napier.

She played just over 30 minutes, shooting eight from 16, but came out firing on all cylinders on Wednesday.

The 111-cap veteran, playing in the less familiar position of goal attack, sunk 41 from 52 with her long-range radar back on track, boosted by Bailey Mes's flawless performance in shooting 21 from 21.

Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby was never in any doubt that Tutaia would turn her game around.

"Maria was the first to admit what she did the other night wasn't up to standard," she said.

"She's the ultimate professional in that space - she's so committed to making sure she can be the best player she can.

"I knew it wasn't going to be two in a row."

The Ferns had shown plenty of fire in the opening quarter to finish on a 6-1 scoring streak and take a 17-13 lead into the first break.

However, England surged back to dominate the second spell 17-9 and open out a 30-26 lead at half-time, only for New Zealand to take the third quarter 18-13 and lead 44-43 at the final break.

Although the Kiwis edged out to a five-goal lead with five minutes remaining, they had to repel a late England run before victory, and the series win, was secure.

Southby says paid tribute to the way her midcourters had rallied following the disappointment of the second Test loss.

"We've been working with the attacking unit on using the whole third and using movement and speed of ball," she said.

"That probably took until the last half to really get going, but once it got going we opened up the shooters a lot better."

England coach Tracey Neville says her team paid the price for not ramming home their advantage in a masterful second quarter.

"When we settled into the second quarter and took the game ahead, I still think there were opportunities we threw away which put us a little under pressure going into that third quarter," she said.

"Credit to the Silver Ferns, it became a shootout match and unfortunately we didn't win that shoot-out match."

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