Commonwealth champions England equalled their best win over New Zealand with a 54-41 victory in their opening match of the Quad Series in Liverpool.
The Roses led 25-24 after an even first half but pulled away in the third quarter to build a 10-goal lead.
“They are a slick outfit, they really challenged us and exposed weaknesses but we implemented the gameplan well,” said England coach Tracey Neville.
“It sets the tone for the rest of the series and the win was what we wanted.”
England faced a new-look New Zealand, who brought in coach Noeline Taurua after failing to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games for the first time when they were held last April.
The return of stalwart defender Casey Kopua and centre-court player Laura Langman gave them valuable experience, as the Silver Ferns matched England for skill, speed and tenacity in the opening two quarters.
But the longer the game progressed, the more England’s shooting partnership of Joanne Harten and Helen Housby found fluidity and success against an increasingly frustrated visiting defence.
This was no more evident than when goal defence Karin Burger was sent off for two minutes in the fourth quarter for heavy – and clumsy – contact on Harten.
The Roses’ attacking intent was complemented by the quick hands of Chelsea Pitman at wing attack and stamina and vision of captain Serena Guthrie, while their defence of Eboni Usuro-Brown and Geva Mentor did a solid job shackling Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekensio.
The 13-point margin of victory equalled England’s 52-39 win over New Zealand last September.
Australia see-off South Africa
In the first game of the series South Africa led beaten Commonwealth Games finalists Australia for a huge chunk of the first half and defended resolutely, before the Diamonds edged ahead to lead 27-25 at the break.
World number one side Australia took control at the end of the third quarter, holding off any threat of a South Africa comeback in the final period to record a 62-45 win.
England face South Africa on Saturday, 19 January before the Commonwealth Games final rematch against Australia a day later at the Copper Box in London.
Both matches will be live on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra.