Stage set for thrilling finish to Constellation Cup

The 2015 Constellation Cup remains up for grabs after the Australian Diamonds suffered their first defeat of the series 50-47 against New Zealand at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena.

The Silver Ferns stunned Australia in the second half, hauling in a nine-goal deficit early in the third quarter as the Diamonds defence struggled to contain New Zealand’s shooting combination of Bailey Mes and Jodi Brown.

It was a memorable 100th Test milestone for New Zealand captain Casey Kopua.

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 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 means the series will finish at 2-2 with the trophy holder to be decided on goal percentage.

2015 Constellation Cup Australia v NZ Game 3A run of eight consecutive goals either side of three-quarter time saw the Silver Ferns take control of the game.

Mes was named the player of the match after finishing with 29 goals while Brown’s contribution after quarter-time was also crucial.

It was a relatively new-look Australian line-up in its first Test on home soil since winning the Netball World Cup crown in Sydney in August.

With captain Laura Geitz being rested and vice-captain Renae Ingles nursing a calf complaint, Ashleigh Brazill became the third Diamonds’ debutante of the series after being given the nod to start at wing defence.

Clare McMeniman (goal defence) and Gretel Tippett (wing attack) both earned their first starts at international level.

Young defender Jo Weston became Australia’s fourth debutante of the series when she came into goal defence for the final few minutes of the match.

Caitlin Bassett continued her dominant form from the opening two Tests of the series before being spelled at half-time.

Caitlin Thwaites earned her first court time of the series in the third term before being replaced by Erin Bell at goal shooter in the final term as coach Lisa Alexander went for a mobile shooting combination.

The Diamonds levelled the match in the dying minutes but the Silver Ferns dug deep to score four of the last five goals of the game to claim their ninth win over Australia in Melbourne from 19 contests.

Official Result & Statistics
New Zealand (50) defeated Australian Diamonds (47)

Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 24/25 (96%)
Natalie Medhurst 10/13 (77%)
Erin Bell 8/9 (89%)
Caitlin Thwaites 5/6 (83%)

New Zealand shooting statistics
Bailey Mes 29/40 (74%)
Jodi Brown 17/23 (74%)
Malia Paseka 4/6 (67%)