Exposure of young talent in the trans-tasman Championship appeared to have paid dividends for the New Zealand under-21 netball team after they scored a significant 52-44 win over their Australian counterparts in Porirua last night.
In the first encounter of the three-test series, New Zealand overcame a tentative start, growing in confidence to produce an impressive outing.
Both teams contained trans-tasman Championship experience in their ranks but New Zealand's core stood out.
The New Zealand shooters Amber Bellringer and Julianna Naoupu built their partnership gradually as the game progressed, hitting their straps leading into the break with the home team making the most of their opportunities to ensure a close contest.
The visitors threatened on several occasions during the final quarter but New Zealand held strong, the combined defensive pressure putting Australia off stride and off target.
The New Zealand and Australia under-21s will be play the curtain-raiser to their senior counterparts at the test matches between the Silver Ferns and Australia in Palmerston North on Thursday and in Auckland, on Sunday.