Australia has succumbed 55-44 to a resurgent New Zealand in the third Constellation Cup Test, ending a two-year winning streak in trans-Tasman netball.
The Silver Ferns pounced on an ill-disciplined performance from the Diamonds in Hamilton and lifted their own standards several notches as Noeline Taurua claimed her first major scalp as coach.
An Australian win would have been their 10th on the trot over New Zealand, matching their record streak set 20 years ago.
Instead, the Diamonds steadily disintegrated as the Test wore on, losing all four quarters in a Test for the first time in eight years, including a 14-8 capitulation in the final stanza.
The lopsided result also means Australia can’t lock away the Constellation Cup yet either.
A 14-point win for New Zealand in the final Test in Wellington on Thursday would see the silverware cross the Tasman for the first time in six years.
Such a result is conceivable, just, after Taurua’s team dominated all facets on Sunday.
Led by unheralded goal keeper Jane Watson, New Zealand shut down a disjointed Australian attack, which was changed throughout the Test with little effect.
Silver Ferns skipper Laura Langman was the best midcourter on show, while veteran goal shooter Maria Folau calmly sank 40 of her 41 shots, mostly from long range.
The Australian defence had no solution, with goal keeper Courtney Bruce penalised 20 times.
Her malaise reflected that of her team as Australia conceded 81 penalties to New Zealand’s 45.
While Taurua fielded the same seven for the whole Test – as she did in this week’s 56-47 loss in Townsville – Australian coach Lisa Alexander rotated her players incessantly.
Bruce was the only Diamond to play all four quarters.
Alexander surprised by starting second-choice shooters Caitlyn Thwaites and Gretel Tippett, along with debutant Jamie-Lee Price on debut at wing defence.
The daughter of former Kangaroos and Queensland rugby league great Steve Price, she claimed Australia’s only four intercepts of the first half before she was replaced by Gabi Simpson.
Captain Caitlin Bassett played the two middle quarters but was off her game at goal shooter and replaced for the final stanza.
Alexander’s experimentation over the final 15 minutes didn’t work, with Tippett given a run at goal shooter and Price employed at centre.
A six-goal burst late in the first quarter put New Zealand 14-13 up and the Silver Ferns stretched the scoreline to 30-26 and 41-36 at the next two breaks.