The Silver Ferns face an uphill battle to hold on to netball's Constellation Cup after they were beaten 58-50 by Australia in Adelaide on Friday night.
The eight-goal victory gives the Diamonds a 2-1 lead in the series with two tests to play.
The Australian coach Lisa Alexander opted for the same starting seven that led her side to victory in Auckland while for the Ferns, defender Katrina Grant played goal keep for the injured Leana de Bruin.
New Zealand coach Wai Taumaunu opted to start Courtney Tairi at wing attack, who was later replaced by rookie Shannon Francois at half-time.
Goal attack Maria Tutaia toiled hard but went missing at key moments in the third quarter, largely thanks to close attention from goal defence Bianca Chatfield.
Ferns shooter Irene van Dyk was on fire early hitting with 18 from 19 attempts before being subbed out at three-quarter time, the Silver Ferns trailing by 13.
Cathrine Latu provided a late spark for the Silver Ferns but it was too little to late for the Ferns, who won the last quarter 16-11.
The win takes the Diamonds' head-to-head record against the Silver Ferns to 67-45.
The fourth test is in Melbourne on Monday.