Australia back to best in series win over Kiwis
By PETER WILLIAMS
AUCKLAND (AAP): A year after they were blasted off the court in New Zealand, Australia's netballers have triumphed over archrivals the Silver Ferns with a 2-1 series win.
The Australians got up 46-40 in a tense third Test in Christchurch on Monday night to gain a psychological edge over the Commonwealth gold medallists ahead of next year's world championship.
They have now won three of their last four games against New Zealand in a dramatic reversal of fortune since a 25-point drubbing in Auckland in October 2005.
"Twelve months ago you certainly wouldn't have put us in this position," a jubilant Australian captain Liz Ellis said.
"We're really rapt. To come away with a win and to really punch it out in the last quarter is an unbelievable finish.
"We talked before the game about passion and doing it obviously for each other but also for the little Aussie crest on our uniform."
Australia dominated the mid-court and outshot their rivals, but the deadly accuracy of the Silver Ferns' shooters kept them in touch right up until the mid-point of the final quarter when the scores were levelled at 37-all.
Then some rare misses by a tiring New Zealand saw the Aussies pile on six unanswered goals to blow their trans-Tasman rivals away.
Ellis put the result down to superior fitness despite Australia using virtually the same seven players for the three Tests played in the space of five days.
"We've got a really super fit team that ran and ran and ran, and a fair bit of heart.
"You don't want to walk away thinking you left anything out there."
Coming off a 43-36 win in Auckland, New Zealand got away to a strong start by shooting at 100 per cent with 19-year-old goal attack Maria Tutaia the star and taking a four-point lead.
But by the second quarter Australian goal defender Mo'onia Gerard had shut Tutaia out of the game and she was replaced.