16/04/2024

Picture: silverferns.co.nz

New Zealand has won its first Constellation Cup since 2012, defeating Australia 45-43 in the fourth and final game of the test series.

New Zealand has won its first Constellation Cup since 2012, defeating Australia 45-43 in the fourth and final game of the test series.

The 2019 World Cup champions were led by goal shooter Maia Wilson, who produced a clinical display in the goal circle to help the Ferns overcome a three quarter time deficit.

A sell-out crowd in Christchurch witnessed the Diamonds get out to an early lead, as they did in the previous three matches, with the trademark skill and physicality of this series on display.

17 turnovers were recorded in the first term with high pressure in the midcourt and nerves rife as both sides laid it all on the line.

Kiera Austin was the early hero for Australia, converting 10 goals to help the away side take a 12-6 lead at quarter time.

In the second term, New Zealand took ascendency through Maia Wilson, displaying her strength and class to convert the hard work produced down the court.

However, it was once again Austin who delivered for the Diamonds with late goals to take a five point lead into the main break.

Australian captain Liz Watson got Australia off to a dream start in the second half, delivering her 10th goal assist to take a 27-19 lead, but from there Maia Wilson took over, rattling off five straight goals for the hosts.

The crowd rose to match the intensity of the home side, with the margin cut to a solitary point as New Zealand recorded their highest scoring quarter for the series with 13 goals.

With the Diamonds leading 31-30 going into the final term, Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich made some changes, swapping Kiera Austin to goal shooter and Cara Koenen to goal attack.

The move saw Koenen grab her fifth offensive rebound of the match and converting to take the lead out to two goals, but Wilson once again proved too good in the goal circle for New Zealand, clinically finishing off every chance presented.

Wilson finished with 13 goals at 100 percent in the final term to snatch the lead for New Zealand, and from there they never looked back.

The sell-out Christchurch crowd cheered the Silver Ferns home, as the World Cup winners claimed their first Constellation Cup over the Diamonds in nine long years.

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