Christchurch, March 6, 2021
A barnstorming final quarter from the Silver Ferns has earned them a 55-49 win over Australia in the third Constellation Cup test in Christchurch.
The New Zealand team now leads the four-match series 2-1 and must win tomorrow’s final match to lift the Constellation Cup.
Alert shift helpful
The government’s announcement of a shift in Covid-19 alert levels means that the game will be played in front of a sell-out crowd.
The Silver Ferns trailed for all but the final nine minutes of today’s match, with Australia leading 14-11 after 15 minutes and 29-24 at halftime.
The New Zealanders lifted in the third stanza, with the introduction of Kimiora Poi at centre providing extra spark and speed, but still trailed by two at the three-quarter mark.
But goal defence Jane Watson grabbed a key turnover with less than nine minutes remaining, and the Silver Ferns pounced.
Their through-court pressure and excellent circle defence forced a flurry of mistakes from the Diamonds, and the Ferns went on to run away with the final quarter 17-9.
The return of Ameliaranne Ekenasio at goal attack was a crucial component in the win, the skipper missing the second match as a precaution after a minor calf injury.
Her combination with Maia Wilson in the circle was outstanding, and their accuracy under huge pressure was impressive.
Wilson shot 41 from 43, and her calmness – especially in a frantic final quarter – was impressive.
Ekenasio was also a constant presence, efficient as a link between the midcourt and the shooting circle and sinking 14 of her 17 shots on goal.
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