The Silver Ferns return to New Zealand trailing 2-1 in their five match netball test series after Australia won 36-33 in Brisbane.
Although the Ferns had 50 attempts at goal to Australia's 45, goal shoot, Irene van Dyk could muster only 16 goals at an uncharacteristically low 73 per cent.
Coach Ruth Aitken says the 95-Test veteran's career is no longer certain after she was shut down by Australia's tallest player Susan Fuhrmann and goal defence Julie Corletto.
Aitken says her team's lost their nerve in attack in the tight, intense and often physical clash which equalled New Zealand's 38-31 win in Auckland last year as the record lowest scoring trans-Tasman encounter played.
Australia led 28-27 lead going into the final quarter but skipped clear by four quickly and held on in the frantic dying stages as the Silver Ferns rallied before Corletto produced two vital steals.