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Ferns lose series finale

Published: 8:58PM Monday October 16, 2006 Source: ONE Sport

Australia has won the Fisher & Paykel series after a barnstorming 46-40 victory over the Silver Ferns in Christchurch.

The visitors seemed more determined and hassled and harried the Ferns into submission in the final test between the sides before next year's world championships.

The victory will be particularly sweet for Australia coach Norma Plummer after her side gained a third win in four games over the Commonwealth Games gold medallists.

The home side led at the first quarter by two before the Aussies drew level at the half-time break. Australia opened up a five-goal lead in the third quarter before the Ferns reduced it to 33-35 heading into the final 15, where Australia took command.

Aitken made no changes from the side which won the second test, while Australia started with the seven which finished the match in Auckland with Susan Pratley at goal attack and Sharelle McMahon at goal shoot.

Both teams started furiously in front of the 7,000-strong crowd and while some of the netball was not of the greatest quality, the commitment of both sides could not be faulted.

Vilimaina Davu set the tone of the game when she let rip at the umpire early on when she was adjudged to have fouled.

Much like the second test, Irene van Dyk was playing more outside the circle, allowing Maria Tutaia the greater goal chances and the youngster was playing out of her skin in the opening 15.

Australia was giving Adine Wilson all sorts of space to fire through passes to the front two and as a result the Ferns moved out to a four-point lead 10 minutes into the game.

However some good turnovers allowed the visitors to reduce the deficit to two at the end of the first quarter as the Ferns led 12-10.

Snuffed out

Australia came out fighting at the start of the second 15 and with some tenacious attack, they moved ahead by one.

Any moves forward by the Ferns were quickly snuffed out and it took nearly five minutes before the Ferns put up a shot.

But despite having the more shooting opportunities, Australia were having problems converting, particularly Pratley. The Ferns attack, when they got the ball, was running at nearly 100 per cent, with van Dyk guilty of the only miss in the first two quarters.

More worrying for coach Aitken was how quiet Tutaia was being kept and by the half-time break it was all square at 20-20.

Leana de Bruin came on for Anna Scarlett at goal defence in the third quarter but Australia began strong again to move out to a three-point lead.

Tutaia was replaced by veteran Tania Dalton four minutes into the quarter as Aitken tried to stem the gold tide and it seemed to inspire the Ferns as they drew level 26-26.

But sloppy handling and turnovers started to plague the Ferns again and the Australians soon opened up an ominous five-goal lead. But back came the Ferns yet again to close within two at 35-33 heading into the final quarter.

Like the previous two quarters, Australia started the strongest and opened up a six-goal lead to silence the home crowd.

Not even the introduction of the home town's Julie Seymour in place of the strangely ineffective Temepara George could stop Australia and they held on for a 46-40 victory.

Shooting stats
Silver Ferns 40 from 44 attempts - 91%

Irene van Dyk 29/31 94%
Maria Tutaia 7/7 100%
Tania Dalton 4/6 67%

Australia 46 from 58 attempts - 79%
Susan Pratley 22/29 76%
Sharelle McMahon 24/29 83%