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Silver Ferns unable to halt fast-finishing Diamonds

The Silver Ferns were left to rue what might have been after the Australian Diamonds secured the Constellation Cup with a 55-43 win in the third Test in Adelaide on Wednesday.

The result gave the Diamonds a 3-0 lead in the series with one Test to play, in Sydney on Saturday.

Dominant second and fourth quarters set up the Diamonds win with the Silver Ferns unable to build on an impressive third quarter which had put them right back into contention. Both teams slipped in and out of a topsy turvy game, the Silver Ferns eventually paying the price.

Both teams went in with unchanged starting sevens from the previous Test, the Silver Ferns bidding to get their campaign back on track while the Diamonds were hoping to clinch the Constellation Cup.

In the high stakes clash, both teams produced a scrappy opening, turnovers outnumbering goals with neither side able to capitalise.

The Silver Ferns in-circle defensive duo of Katrina Grant and Kelly Jury made their best start of the series in denying the Diamonds any rhythm while getting their hands on turnover ball.

It was a similar scenario at the other end, the Silver Ferns attacking line failing to get clean accurate ball away while under intense scrutiny. Matching each other for turnovers for the quarter, it was the Diamonds who nosed to a 12-10 lead at the end of a messy first quarter.

It was the hosts who tidied up best on the resumption, Australia getting away to a flyer with the Silver Ferns left struggling to contain the speed and accuracy of their opponent’s through-court play.

As has happened throughout the series, the Silver Ferns had difficulty converting their gains, Australia having no such problems as their goal tally continued to climb.

Wholesale changes, including positional changes for Shannon Francois and Samantha Sinclair, and the introduction of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Kayla Cullen couldn’t halt a storming stanza for the Diamonds who out-scored the New Zealanders at a rate of two-to-one.

Bookending a strong team effort, shooter Caitlin Bassett and defender Courtney Bruce helped the Diamonds hit the main break with a healthy 30-19 lead.

Inspired by the spark provided by lively goalkeeper Temalisi Fakahokotau, centre Sinclair, Cullen and the assured accuracy of Mes and Selby-Rickit under the hoop, the Silver Ferns rebounded in style to take the sting out of the Diamonds in a stirring third quarter.

The Silver Ferns helped silence the 5000-strong crowd with an assertive 15 minutes, winning the third stanza 15-8 to whittle the Diamonds lead to four when the hosts were reduced to a 38-34 lead at the last turn.