Australia kept their cool in the dying minutes to deny the Silver Ferns rare back-to-back netball wins in enemy territory with a 43-41 victory in the second test at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre today.
In another epic trans-Tasman battle, the Diamonds led by a solitary goal at every quarter break and maintained their advantage throughout a pressure-packed final 15 minutes.
The match was still up for grabs at 42-40 with two minutes 30 seconds remaining when Ferns substitute Wendy Telfer made a key intercept to swing them back on attack.
But goal attack Maria Tutaia, who shot brilliantly, missed her first attempt of the day from long range and Australia raced back for Susan Pratley to nail the final goal and make it safe.
The result squared the ledger in 2008 between the sides at 2-2, after New Zealand took the advantage with a 46-41 win in Melbourne a week ago.
The Melbourne win was enough for New Zealand to win the series trophy on goal difference.
Tutaia was New Zealand’s star, outshining her shooting partner Irene van Dyk with 21 from 22, while van Dyk was under intense pressure and shot 20 from 24.
The Ferns out-shot the Diamonds 89 percent to 77 percent, with Pratley their best with 26 from 33.
Both sides were without key personnel, the hosts missing star shooters Sharelle McMahon (knee) and Catherine Cox (ankle), while the Ferns were without experienced midcourter Julie Seymour.
Ferns coach Ruth Aitken made two changes to her starting lineup, elevating wing attack Liana Barrett-Chase and goal defence Katrina Grant after both made big impacts from the bench last Sunday.
Diamonds coach Norma Plummer made one change, with Queensland goal keep Laura Geitz, 20, earning a second test cap.
Geitz started strongly and with captain Mo’onia Gerrard made life tough for van Dyk who struggled to make contact with her feeders.
Jamaican umpires Dalton Hinds and Chris Campbell also made some baffling calls, with van Dyk pulled up for stepping when she was walking to the correct spot to take a shot.
The hosts raced out to a 10-4 lead but the Ferns clawed it back late in the first quarter with Tutaia taking the heat off van Dyk at the edge of the circle.
The Ferns found their composure and the ball flowed into the circle as they rattled off five unanswered goals to trail 11-12 at quartertime.
Veteran defender Sheryl Scanlan replaced Grant at the first break and the Ferns shot to a 15-12 advantage before the teams traded goals for the rest of the half.
Tutaia had a strong first half, shooting 10 out of 10 while van Dyk recovered from two early misses to hit 12 from 14, while Australia’s shooters Kate Beveridge and Pratley had four first half misses between them.
The third quarter was an intense struggle as both sides made turnovers under heavy defensive pressure and there was no more than four goals in it throughout.
Australia took a 33-32 lead into the final quarter as Aitken injected Telfer for Joline Henry at wing defence for her test debut.