Silver Ferns 52
The Silver Ferns have all but thrown away the Constellation Cup, turning in another ordinary performance in Christchurch this afternoon to give Australia a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Ferns now head into the second half of the series needing to pull off two convincing wins on Australian soil to have a chance of getting their hands on the prized transtasman netball trophy for the first time since 2012.
Just as in Thursday night's opener in Auckland, the Ferns lacked energy and composure on attack, committing far too many soft turnovers.
Diamonds defender Courtney Bruce, who only made her debut in last month's Quad Series, had a field day in the defensive circle, gobbling up the misdirected passes she created by confusing the space in the circle. Bruce finished with an impressive return of six deflections and five intercepts - just one less than the combined Silver Ferns defensive effort.
The Silver Ferns had a dream start to the match as the Diamonds handed them a four-goal headstart after a flurry of unforced errors - including turnovers off their first two possessions. The Ferns showed good patience to break up the suffocating Australian defence and convert their early opportunities, but their composure deserted them as the quarter wore on.
The New Zealand side started making some fairly basic errors of their own, with their option-taking in the attacking third particularly suspect. Young defender Courtney Bruce had a field-day picking off the wobbly passes around the shooting circle, and the Diamonds made sure her efforts were rewarded, scoring the last five goals of the spell to take a 14-11 lead at the first break.The second spell seemed to play out in a similar way to Thursday night's opening test, with Australia threatening to run away with the contest, extending their lead out to six goals through the middle stages, before the Ferns were able to claw their way back and limit the damage.
Janine Southby was forced to go to her bench just before halftime, introducing Te Paea Selby-Rickit to the shooting mix, with Bailey Mes taking the bench, and Maria Tutaia moving out to the more familiar role of goal attack.
Trailing 29-26 at the long break, Southby was forced to make further changes to her midcourt and defensive circle, introducing Kayla Cullen and Temalisi Fakahokotau into the mix for Sam Sinclair and Kelly Jury respectively.
Despite a typically energetic performance from Fakahokotau, the Ferns could not make any in-roads into the Diamonds lead, as the same attacking concerns remained. The Kiwi side just could not seem to find their rhythm on attack, with the tight one-on-one marking style of the Australians creating hesitancy.
The game appeared over with Australia leading 42-34 with five minutes left in the third spell, but New Zealand managed to pull it back to 44-39 at the break to keep their hopes of levelling the series alive.
Those hopes were quickly extinguished early in the fourth spell, however, as an unforced error from the Ferns let the Diamonds gain some handy breathing space. The series now moves across the Tasman, with the third test in Adelaide on Wednesday, before the finale in Sydney on Saturday.