17 Sep 2012

Silver Ferns hold whip hand

6:01 am on 17 September 2012

The Silver Ferns have the early lead in the three-Test Constellation Cup netball series and will take home-court advantage for the two remaining matches after an enthralling 54-52 win in the opener in Melbourne yesterday.

Deadly goalshooting from Maria Tutaia and Irene van Dyk was the difference - the veteran van Dyk shooting an amazing 97 per cent for the match, with just one miss.

New Zealand's victory was built on a decisive third quarter and the visitors led by as much as six midway through the fourth quarter before a late Australian comeback.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander felt the New Zealanders had "out-Australianised" the home side, with patient play and shot selection proving the difference despite the Ferns losing skipper Casey Williams to pre-match injury.

Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu is hopeful rather than confident skipper Williams, who had knee soreness after the team's final training session, will play on Thursday in Auckland.

Australia must now replicate their efforts of last year to retain the Constellation Cup. The Diamonds rebounded from a first Test loss in Perth to win the remaining two matches of the series.