Silver Ferns dominate second half to take Constellation Cup series lead

Source: 1News

The Silver Ferns have one hand on the Constellation Cup after a come-from-behind victory in a physical third test against the Australian Diamonds in Christchurch this afternoon.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 06: Kiera Austin of Australia is challenged by Karin Burger of New Zealand during the Constellation Cup International Test Match between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and the Australia Diamonds at Christchurch Arena on March 06, 2021 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Despite trailing for much of the game, the Silver Ferns found their mojo in the second half and overwhelmed the Australians with some high-pressure defence and knock-down shooting, eventually taking a 55-49 victory.

The final scoreline did not tell the whole story.

Australia took a narrow 14-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Silver Ferns looked good for stretches but struggled to retain possession, conceding seven turnovers to Australia’s five.

Despite lacking possession, the Silver Ferns attack kept them in the game. At the half the Silver Ferns were shooting over 90 per cent, with Maia Wilson hitting 17-from-18 and Amerliaranne Ekenasio seven-from-eight.

But it was not enough to keep up with the Diamonds, who extended their lead to five, going into the break ahead 29-24.

The Silver Ferns came out firing in the second half with some slick passing and staunch defence, and within five minutes had levelled the scores.

But Australia did not succumb to the pressure, going on a run of their own and regaining their five point advantage.

Led by Wilson, the Silver Ferns clawed back to within two going into the final quarter.

The momentum rolled into the final 15 minutes, the Silver Ferns dominating, while the Diamonds struggled to hit their shots.

Wilson finished an incredible 41-from-43, and was well supported by Ekenasio, who hit 14-from-17.

Skipper Ekenasio was pleased her side was able to slow down the Australians in a hard-fought contest.

"It was a real tough battle out there tonight. We knew they wanted to run away with it and we couldn’t allow them to do that," she said.

The Silver Ferns now lead the Constellation Cup two-one going into the final test tomorrow.

The change of alert levels for Christchurch overnight mean crowds will be welcomed back into the arena, in what should be a boost to the home side.

"We’re so excited and with the win under our belt tonight it will push us that little bit further," Ekenasio said.