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The Silver Ferns have dropped what shapes up as their final match of the season, going down to the Aotearoa Men's team 57-53 in Wellington.
The men's side had tested the Silver Ferns across the series, improving every game before finally getting the win – led by goal shooter Jay Geldard and the defensive efforts of goal keeper Victor Godsmark-White.
The men's side particularly impressed in their ability to convert their turnovers into goals – an area they struggled with in the opening match. In the final game, they scored off 12 of their 17 turnovers.
It was a familiar story for the Silver Ferns in the opening quarter, who struggled with just a 70 per cent success rate in the shooting circle, while at the opposite end Geldard and goal attack Ben Smith missed just one shot each to lead the men to a three-goal lead.
The lead was extended by just one goal in the second quarter, as the Silver Ferns fought back. Their struggles at the shooting end hurt them again, however - missing five of eight shots and leaving some slick play from the midcourt unrewarded.
The third quarter saw the men advance their claim to the victory. At the halftime break, centre Nick Grimmer noted the side just needed to convert off their own centre passes to win, and they worked hard to ensure they weren't taking any unnecessary risks with the ball.
With Geldard again on form under the goal, once the ball go into his hands things seemed elementary, but the work to get in those positions through Grimmer, Smith and wing attack Eriata Vercoe was clean and crisp.
The men added a further four goals to their lead after the third quarter, and while the Silver Ferns fought back to close the gap in the final period of the series, it wasn't enough to keep the men from securing a deserved win.
Silver Ferns 53 (Maia Wilson 20/27, Tiana Metuarau 17/23, Grace Nweke 16/20)
Aotearoa Men 57 (Jay Geldard 51/53, Ben Smith 3 / 4)