New Zealand has come storming from behind in the final quarter to clinch a vital game three victory over Australia.
The Silver Ferns took the lead early in the fourth term and didn’t look back, eventually winning the second half by 11 goals, and the match 55 to 49.
It was a frantic start to a crucial game three, with Australia getting out to a 14-11 quarter time lead over the Silver Ferns.
Jo Weston wore the consequences of a physical first period, going off under the blood rule with Jamie-Lee Price filling in at goal defence for her.
New Zealand captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio was back in the line-up at goal attack after a calf complaint held her out of game two, and her leadership and quality proved vital for a New Zealand side that found itself chasing the game from the outset.
Diamonds goal attack Kiera Austin was a livewire in the first half, forcing the Silver Ferns to their bench with Karin Burger brought on to try contain her.
Goal shooter Cara Koenen controlled the baseline for Australia late in the first half to take a stranglehold of the match 29-24.
In the second half, the Silver Ferns went on an early run to even the contest at 30-all, but Australia steadied through the play of wing attack captain Liz Watson to rattle off the next five points.
The physicality stepped up a notch with Maia Wilson and Sarah Klau receiving a warning from the umpire as the New Zealand goal shooter found her groove, shooting at 100 per cent.
The baseline once again proved to be the Kiwi’s kryptonite, with Watson finding Koenen time and again to retain the Diamonds’ slender three point lead at the end of the third quarter.
New Zealand found another gear in the fourth to take their first lead since the opening term, forcing coach Stacey Marinkovich to bring on veteran goal shooter Caitlin Bassett to finish off the match.
However, Australia struggled to match New Zealand’s work rate in the final term with Wilson and Ekanasio proving too good in the goal circle. The Kiwi duo shot 92 per cent compared to the Australian’s 78 per cent.
By finding their best netball when it mattered most, the Silver Ferns have taken a commanding 2-1 lead in the four match test series against the Diamonds.
The final match of the series will take place on Sunday, with the announcement that crowds will be returning in time for the deciding game.
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