Silver Ferns get opening win in Constellation Cup

Kiera Austin of Australia is challenged by Sulu Fitzpatrick of New Zealand during the Constellation Cup International Test match. Photo: Getty Images
Kiera Austin of Australia is challenged by Sulu Fitzpatrick of New Zealand during the Constellation Cup International Test match. Photo: Getty Images
The Silver Ferns have beaten the Australian Diamonds 49-44 in the first Test of the Constellation Cup in Christchurch.

It's the first time the two sides have met in 18 months.

New Zealand are hoping to claim the Constellation Cup for first time since 2012.

With plenty of competition in the midcourt Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua opted to go with Claire Kersten at centre, Sam Winders at wing defence, and Gina Crampton at wing attack.

Debutant Kiera Austin started at goal attack for the Diamonds, alongside veteran Caitlin Bassett.

It was goal for goal for the first six minutes but the Silver Ferns pulled away to lead 14-10 after the first quarter.

The visitors found it hard to get through the Silver Ferns' zone defence and Winders got her hands to any scraps.

New Zealand took a 28-21 lead at half-time. By the main break the Diamonds stacked up 45 penalties to New Zealand's 23.

Australia made changes at half-time with Verity Charles getting her debut at wing attack.

The substitutions had an impact and Australian defender Courtney Bruce started becoming a pest.

When the Diamonds scored five goals on the trot the Silver Ferns made a defensive change.

Karin Burger came on at goal defence, and Jane Watson moved back to goal keep, with Sulu Fitzpatrick moving to the bench.

New Zealand regained momentum and finished nine goals ahead at the final turn.

Cara Koenen made her debut when she replaced Bassett at goal shoot for the final quarter.

The Diamonds won the final quarter 13-9.

Silver Ferns shooters Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Ekenasio were strong but will want to improve their shooting accuracy after a 78 percent return.

The Diamonds have got plenty to think about before tomorrow's second Test.

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