Silver Ferns 55
It was close, but not close enough.
Going down 60-55 in their final Quad Series match against the Australian Diamonds, the Silver Ferns were unable to make a strong enough comeback to secure the Quad Series title in Melbourne.
Suffering their seventh-straight defeat to the old foe, the Ferns struggled to keep up with the fast Australian pace, however, they did display moments of brilliance that could only be credited to the new guidance of head coach Noeline Taurua.
Although pleased by her side's improved performance, Taurua insisted there were still things to be worked on and said the clash had given her clarity on areas to address.
"We never like to lose and I hate losing myself, but we've got to keep realistic as a team. I think we were exposed in some areas and we weren't competitive, but it's great to be exposed by such a great team," Taurua said after the game.
"Defensively there were moments were we scrapped and we fought really hard but I thought that we also didn't have purpose in some respect.
"Overall I'm actually quite happy with it, I think that we have improved since our last game. I thought it was a great comeback [and] a great fight,"
In a strong start, shooters Maria Folau and Te Paea Selby-Rickit showed continued improvement as a new combination while captain Laura Langman led her midcourt with confident circle feeds.
Meanwhile, Katrina Grant was in sublime form as the vice-captain caused early problems for Australian shooter and captain Caitlin Bassett.
But nicely assisted by her accurate goal attack, Gretel Tippett, Bassett quickly settled under the hoop to take control of space and assert her towering dominance over the Ferns' defensive unit.
Taking control of the clash, the Diamonds pushed ahead with a threatening five-goal lead which they forcefully held throughout the first half.
Creating and taking as many opportunities to score, the Ferns played with promising resilience in the third quarter as they fought to keep up with the home side.
Uncharacteristic errors from the Diamonds presented the Ferns with a few turnover opportunities and with Folau in impressive long-range shooting form, the Kiwi side continued to apply the pressure.
With the young Aliyah Dunn on the court in her second international test, the Ferns looked to switch up the pace of their attacking unit in the final stanza, keeping in touch of the hosts.
However, the Diamonds stepped up in the final minutes in true Australian netball style, strongly holding their lead to topple the Kiwis and claim the spoils.
Earlier in the afternoon, the England Roses avoided disaster, claiming a come from behind 45-42 victory over the South African Proteas.
The Proteas took an early seven-goal lead in the opening quarter but lost their touch in the final stages of the match to come up just short of a famous win.
The Ferns will face Australia again for the first of four matches in the Constellation Cup next month.