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Win gives NZ edge in Constellation Cup

NZN 12/10/2016 Melissa Woods

Australia will have to win in enemy territory to bring home the Constellation Cup following a two-goal loss to New Zealand in Launceston.

After blitzing the opening match in Sydney the Diamonds were shocked by a lift in defensive pressure by the Silver Ferns and fell 53-51.

The Australians led by two goals midway through the final quarter but New Zealand wouldn't be denied, with Bailey Mes slotting two goals in the final nine seconds to seal the result.

The remaining two Tests are in Auckland on Saturday followed by Invercargill on October 20.

Australian coach Lisa Alexander said she was bitterly disappointed after such an impressive win in game one.

"I did warn (that) the Silver Ferns would come back hard and they did and we didn't adjust," Alexander said.

"We took quite a while to get our intensity going and we just threw too many balls away."

Diamonds skipper Clare McMeniman, playing her final game on Australia soil before retirement, said her team blew their chances.

"We were intimidated by them and we looked a bit scared at times and that's not who we are and that's the most disappointing thing," McMeniman said.

Kiwi Anna Harrison, 33, succeeded where many other goal-keepers have failed in troubling Australia's shooting ace Caitlin Bassett.

Playing only her second Test since 2014 after having her second child and then battling a calf injury, the extra height and pressure Harrison brought to the circle upset the supply to Bassett.

Another veteran in Laura Langman also got the better of Australia's star wing attack Madi Robinson.

The Diamonds started brightly, running away to a 6-1 lead, but their arch rivals turned up the heat in the second quarter to draw level at 29-29 at halftime.

Led by rookie shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit in her sixth Test, New Zealand got out to a five goal lead before Australia closed the margin to 40-42 at the final break.

It was new Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby's first win over Australia, who said the team let themselves down in the opening match.

"We always believe we can do it and this is what we need to prove that and now we're looking forward to the next two games," Southby said.

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