26 Oct 2015

Silver Ferns fight back

12:13 pm on 26 October 2015

A second-half comeback by New Zealand has kept the Constellation Cup netball series alive after the Silver Ferns upset world champions Australia 50-47 in game three in Melbourne.

Bailey Mes out jumps her Australian opponent on the way to a 50-47 victory.

Bailey Mes out jumps her Australian opponent on the way to a 50-47 victory. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Ferns took their first win in the four-match Test series after trailing by as many as nine goals early in the third quarter.

The three-goal victory was the Silver Ferns' first Constellation Cup win since September 2013, ending Australia's run of 10 consecutive wins against their trans-Tasman rivals.

The turning point came with the introduction of Jodie Brown in the third quarter, who replaced Malia Paseka at goal attack and went on to score 17 goals from 23 attempts.

Bailey Mes led the scoring for New Zealand with 29 goals from 39 shots, but lacked accuracy in the first half as her team fell behind.

After being behind 15-9 at quarter-time and 28-21 at half-time, the Silver Ferns scored the last five goals of the third quarter to level the scores.

They outscored the Diamonds 14 goals to 11 in the final quarter and will head to Perth for the last match on Friday full of confidence to square the series.

The New Zealand centre Laura Langman heads into traffic.

The New Zealand centre Laura Langman heads into traffic. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

For Australia, Caitlin Bassett was perfect with 24 goals from as many attempts, while Natalie Medhurst bagged 10 from 14, Erin Bell eight from nine and Caitlin Thwaites five from six.

Bassett was replaced at half-time due to a foot injury and the star goal shoot is now in doubt for the final Test.

Asked what had been the turning point of the match, the Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu answered bluntly: "Bassett not being on the court."

"I thought we did okay in the first half in terms of getting ball off them. I felt in the second half we then converted possession into goals. That makes all the difference really."

Taumaunu said she was pleased to win the first match of the series to be played in Australia and that the victory came in the 100th Test for her captain Casey Kopua.

True to her word, Australia coach Lisa Alexander continued to add debutantes to her line-up, with both Ashleigh Brazill at wing defence and Jo Weston at goal defence given court time.

But in the absence of Bassett, the Australians struggled to get the ball into the shorter shooting combination of Medhurst and Thwaites.

New Zealand's Kayla Cullen.

New Zealand's Kayla Cullen. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In an attempt to steady the ship, Bell replaced Thwaites at goal shoot for the final quarter and although she did shoot accurately, the Silver Ferns had all the momentum.

The Diamonds leads the series 2-1 and will retain the Constellation Cup for the third straight year with a victory in Perth.

A New Zealand win will mean the series would finish at 2-2 with the trophy holder to be decided on goal percentage.

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