Big loss for Silver Ferns at Nations Cup opener

Silver Fern Grace Nweke in action on Saturday. Photo: Michael Bradley
Silver Fern Grace Nweke in action on Saturday. Photo: Michael Bradley
The Silver Ferns have opened their 2024 season with a 13-goal loss to Australia, unable to bridge the gap with their trans-Tasman rivals.

The World Champion Diamonds led from start to finish in the Nations Cup opener as New Zealand were outclassed 63-50 in London on Saturday. 

Captain Liz Watson played a starring role for the Australian side with goal attack Kiera Austin a standout in their attack line.

Australian defender Courtney Bruce was a constant thorn for the Silver Ferns as the Diamonds surged out to a 14-9 first quarter lead.

Experienced New Zealand shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio has been rested for the tour, replaced by the Southern Steel's Georgia Heffernan on debut at Wembley.

Heffernan partnered Grace Nweke in the shooting circle, while the midcourt featured centre Maddie Gordon and wing defence Karin Burger.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Whitney Souness shared the wing attack duties.

Australia pushed on from their five-goal lead at the first break to a 29-22 halftime advantage.

New Zealand's best passage of play came in the third quarter with Nweke scoring 14 goals for the quarter as New Zealand trimmed the deficit to 44-39.

With the match set for a tight finish New Zealand faded badly, outscored in the last quarter by eight goals.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua says there will be plenty to address before the team plays Uganda on Monday.

"It was disappointing how that last quarter ended but overall, it was not too bad," Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua said.

"Our ability, once again, to hold right through, our ability not to turn over ball and probably our fitness levels let us down a bit but it's a start, we know where we're at, so know the gaps and what we need to improve on."