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The Ferns went down 48-42 to the Australian Diamonds last night, in the second test of the Constellation Cup, following back-to-back single goal wins over their rivals.
It would have been the first time the world champions had three straight wins over the Diamonds since 2006 - but it was not meant to be.
Stuck in catch-up mode from the first centre pass, the Ferns struggled to get the upper hand over a polished Diamonds side.
Star shooters Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio had their work cut out for them in the circle, with the Australians displaying tighter defence.
Ekenasio, in particular, struggled to free herself from Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce, leaving Folau to take the bulk of the shots.
The Diamonds extended a slim first-quarter lead to 26-21 by halftime.
Ferns defender Karin Burger carried her fine form from Sunday's clash, snatching five intercepts during the game, and backed up by the aerial skillset of Jane Watson, the defensive duo gifted their side possession at crucial moments - but it was in the shooting end the ball was often lost.
Ekenasio found better space in the circle in the second half, but captain Laura Langman struggled to find consistent openings to feed to her shooters from the circle edge.
Head coach Noeline Taurua's first change came in the third quarter, with Whitney Souness given the nod at wing attack while Shannon Saunders took a seat on the bench.
Souness' influence was instantly felt on court. The young midcourter picked up plenty of ball while finding good connection with Folau.
As Ekenasio continued to struggle under the post, Bailey Mes came on at goal shoot, allowing Folau to move out at goal attack.
The switch momentarily caught the Australian defenders off-guard but it did not take long before the Diamonds regained control to confidently claim the second test of the series.
Hope of bringing home the Constellation Cup for the first time in seven years is not lost yet for the Ferns though, as two games remain - though both are to be played on Australian soil.
The sides have four days before they play again in Sydney on Sunday.
The final test will be hosted in Perth on October 27.
Constellation Cup 2019
Game 2 scores
Australian Diamonds 48
(Gretel Tippett 23, Caitlin Bassett 17, Tegan Philip 8)
New Zealand Silver Ferns 42
(Maria Folau 31, Ameliaranne Ekenasio 8, Bailey Mes 3)