Great Britain

Diamonds shocked as New Zealand claim third Constellation Cup Test

New Zealand have roared back to claim game three of the Constellation Cup, defeating Australia 55-49 to move within one win of the trophy.

The Silver Ferns trailed at every change but made their pressure tell in the final term, overwhelming the Diamonds 17-9 to secure the comeback victory.

The result means Stacey Marinkovich’s new-look Diamonds must win the fourth and final match on Sunday by three goals if they are to retain the trophy they have held since 2012.

Australia will rue missed chances, taking more shots overall and leading by five late in the third term before letting it slip. All three shooters including stalwart Caitlin Bassett, who played only the final eight minutes, shot under 90%.

In contrast, New Zealand goal shooter Maia Wilson dominated under the ring, shooting 41 of 43 to take the pressure off returning skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Australian captain Liz Watson was clear on what cost her side: “our attacking game”.

“They did their homework on us,” she said. “We got up by five goals and we let them back in and went down by six. New Zealand did a great job. They put us under pressure and they knew that we didn’t like to play against that fast movement and they slowed us down.”

The contest was hyper-competitive from the get-go, with both teams called for first-term offensive penalties which sent players to the floor. The intensity continued through to the death. Referees stopped the match to caution Sarah Klau and Wilson for scrapping after goals.

At 43-43, Jo Weston- who spent the middle quarters off with injury – made a costly fumble to allow Wilson an easy goal. Shortly after, Kiwi goal defence Jane Watson made a stunning intercept at the other end to allow New Zealand to race away with the match.

“I’m still catching my breath. It was definitely very physical. A typical Australian match-up,” Ekenasio said. “It was a real tough battle out there. We knew we had to stay with them and we would get it.”

Australian goal attack Kiera Austin shot 18 of 27 – just 67 per cent – and Cara Koenen made 25 of 29 before making way for Bassett in the final term. A final change from Marinkovich, swapping centre Kate Moloney for Verity Charles, came too late to stem the tide.

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