In the space of 10 days, the Silver Ferns season that had shown surprising early promise has unravelled.

The high of the Ferns' Quad Series win over Australia - not just any win, a 10-goal drubbing at that - sparked unprecedented levels of optimism in the New Zealand camp heading into this month's Constellation Cup. Katrina Grant's side appeared to have their biggest opportunity in several years to wrestle the coveted transtasman netball prize away from the Diamonds.

The Australian side was under huge pressure heading to the four-test series, with their performances over the Quad Series forcing a re-think of selections and several star players put on notice.

Less than a fortnight on the tough, uncomfortable questions are now being asked of the Silver Ferns programme with the New Zealand side on the brink of their most disastrous series in recent times.


A loss in Sydney tomorrow would consign the Ferns to just their second whitewash defeat since the Constellation Cup was introduced in 2010.

It would also mean if you discount their January three-test series against Wales, the New Zealand side will finish the international season with a negative win-loss record, having also dropped two games against England last month.

Tomorrow is the Ferns' final opportunity to restore some respectability to their season and, more importantly, confidence in the young New Zealand side as next year's Commonwealth Games loom on the horizon.

Sitting clear at the top of the list of work-ons for coach Janine Southby will be her side's attacking efforts.

Rather than building understanding and confidence across the series, the links in the New Zealand attack only appear to have weakened as the series has progressed, culminating in Wednesday night's hapless display in Adelaide.

The Ferns made errors scarcely seen at this level, with breaking, held ball, footwork, and over a third calls featuring among the 42 turnovers committed during the match.

The biggest problem remains their passing placement. The number of soft passes the Australian defenders were able to pick off should be cause for alarm for Southby and co, with players not doing the basics like taking their feet to the ball, and doing the pre-movement to get away from their player.

It isn't just the young players guilty of making these mistakes. Maria Tutaia - the Ferns most seasoned performer - was one of the chief offenders, committing a game-high seven turnovers, while Shannon Francois, another in the New Zealand leadership group, was also expensive.

Team management must also put their own processes under the microscope. A bungled substitution mid-way through the final period, in which apparently no one knew who was supposed to be playing centre, effectively handing Australia a goal and further rattled the New Zealand side.

The Ferns dreadful attacking performance shrouded what was the New Zealand side's best defensive effort of the series as they managed to restrict Australia to just 55 goals, despite committing more than 40 turnovers.

They must bring that same defensive intensity tomorrow if they are going to have any chance of avoiding a series whitewash. Whatever happens, the performances of the group has forced Southby and co to reassess their options heading into next year.

The Silver Ferns season so far ...
Quad Series
W v South Africa 63-56
L v England 45-49
W v Australia 57-47

Taini Jamison Series
W v England 62-55
L v England 46-49
W v England 62-55

Constellation Cup
L v Australia 53-57
L v Australia 52-60
L v Australia 43-55