For all the positive progress the Silver Ferns profess to be making, they could now go winless in this Quad Series.

Two from three ambitions are dust after a second straight loss to open 2019; the 50-53 defeat to Australia at London's Copper Box Arena following last week's 13 goal episode against England in Liverpool to open the northern tournament.

This week failing to jump and giving up an eight-goal first quarter buffer to a weakened Australian side, missing the influential Caitlin Bassett, did the damage despite vast improvements in a spirited comeback after changes to the muddled midcourt in the second quarter.

Thus Laura Langman's 150th test, the first to do so for the Ferns, went blemished. Such a leader and competitor, she deserved more. Her side is now left contemplating a showdown with South Africa, who tore up the script to stun the hosts 48-45, to escape with one win.

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"I always think sometimes milestones give you the hoodoos, but, never mind," Langman said. "I just love game day. I feel really lucky to have been given a second chance. There's not many people that get to be in my position.

"They're a champion side and I thought the speed caught us unawares so we probably need to switch in and adjust a little bit – it's just those game smarts where we are probably found wanting."

The heart and composure Langman praised about the comeback came directly from her switch to centre, in place of Sam Sinclair, and the injection of Karin Burger at wing defence.

It proved a telling change as the Ferns applied pressure from then on to turn the tide and comfortably win the third and fourth quarters.

Burger grabbed her chance with tight marking and one turnover while Langman sparked attacking drive which allowed the shooters to again perform strongly.

All a bit belatedly, of course.

"The strength of our squad is the flexibility of our ability to play multiple positions," Langman said, emphasising this group was united and connected in the face of repeat losses. "We are preparing for the big picture in July and those teams that have adaptable players give you a little bit more leverage in a tournament style.

"We were able to go to that option tonight. Any other day it might not have worked and we might have to go to another one but it was cool to get a run in the middle."

Outwardly Taurua remains positive but so, too, are frustrations evident after two wins from nine to start her tenure.

Norma Plummer's South Africa shocking England proves the final match of this series will be another genuine test, one the Ferns must win to have any confidence about the looming World Cup.

Returning home winless was not the plan.

"That first quarter was damaging for us," Taurua said. "I thought we had enough ball in hand but coughed it up.

"It's been a consistent thing we're not quite nailing. It seems like every first quarter or every ball in each quarter we aren't able to do our job.

"Overall we're still far away from Australia and England if we're going to be honest. There's pleasing stuff when we're still far behind."

Meltdowns aside, Casey Kopua is fast finding her feet after three years out of the test arena and beginning to gel with Jane Watson, the pair pulling off two successful hoists to disrupt the England shooters.

At the other end of the court, Ameliaranne Ekenasio (20/22 in her best outing for the Ferns) and Maria Folau (30-37) continue to form a promising partnership.

Meanwhile, the midcourt struggles.

"There's been a consistent message about our shooters not being able to put the ball through the hoop so I'm really happy with that combination.

"We were the most consistent we've ever been. We were intense; we had a great attitude and we were able to get the ball from one end of the court down to the other. I would love that to happen again tomorrow and not be a one hit wonder."