Australia has faltered in game two of the Constellation Cup, falling 53-51 in a thriller second netball Test against New Zealand in Launceston.
After a crushing 68-56 victory in the first Test in Sydney, the Diamonds couldn’t handle a lift in defensive pressure by the Kiwis.
With the remaining two matches in New Zealand, the loss is a big blow for the world champion Australians.
The Diamonds started brightly, running away to a 6-1 lead, but their arch rivals turned up the heat in the second quarter.
New Zealand started with veteran Anna Harrison at goalkeeper and the move proved a defensive masterstroke.
With Australia’s midcourt also being kept quiet, Harrison, playing in her second Test since a two year absence on family leave, helped shut down the supply to the Diamonds’ main shooting weapon Cailtin Bassett.
The teams went to the halftime break at 29-29 with the Australians looking rattled.
The Silver Ferns, led by rookie shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit in her sixth Test, got out to a five-goal lead before Australia closed the margin to 40-42 at the final break.
The Diamonds hit the front in the last quarter but the desperate New Zealanders wouldn’t be denied to give new coach Janine Southby her first win over Australia.