Diamonds edge Silver Ferns in final
A third-quarter lapse proved costly as the Silver Ferns fell 56-50 to Australia in the final of the Netball Quad Series in Cape Town.
The Silver Ferns were unable to reverse the result of round-robin play when they lost to the same opponents by two goals, Australia going on to clinch a seventh title since the inception of the Quad Series in 2016.
The Silver Ferns couldn't have asked for a better start but struggled to maintain that impressive early form when ground down by a more consistent and accurate Diamonds.
However, all was not lost for the Silver Ferns, who now head home to fine-tune for the main event, the Netball World Cup at the same venue in July, after the outstanding Grace Nweke was awarded overall Player and Shooter of the Quad Series while Kate Heffernan picked up Midcourter of the tournament award.
"All the teams will see the benefit from being here, not only from testing the venue and the logistics, all that sort of stuff but this has been the last hit-out before we go back into our domestic competition,'' Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Tauraua said.
"So, this has been really important that all the players know what their plan is coming out of here, where our gaps are as a team, where we need to improve, not only as a playing base but also as a coaching group to try and find that magical ingredient.
"Although it was disappointing to lose the final, I'm really happy, once again, that we've been able to pull ourselves together quite fast, considering we've had a few changes in our squad. It's just been a massive tick to be here.''
Experience was a feature for both teams in recognising the significance of the occasion with the returning defensive duo of Jane Watson (goalkeeper) and Karin Burger (wing defence) marking their returns from pregnancy and injury, respectively with inclusion in the Silver Ferns starting line-up.
New Zealand surged to a 19-15 lead after the first quarter and managed to stay in front 31-30 at half time.
However the Diamonds turned in a dominant third quarter... outscoring the Ferns 14-9.
They started the final stanza four goals in front and extended that by two at the final whistle.
Dame Noeline kept the same lineup on court for the entire game.
England beat South Africa 49-42 in the play-off for third.
Silver Ferns: 50
Shooting Stats - Silver Ferns:
Grace Nweke 39/45 (86.7%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 11/11 (100%)
Shooting Stats - Australia:
Cara Koenen 33/34 (97.1%)
Steph Wood 23/28 (82.1%)