Constellation Cup: Silver Ferns' final-quarter surge overcomes Australia for series lead

New Zealand have produced a withering final quarter to overhaul their trans-Tasman rivals and set up a thrilling Constellation Cup finale in Christchurch on Sunday.

After their nine-goal capitulation to Australia two nights earlier, the world champion Silver Ferns needed a rebound performance to keep their series aspirations alive and responded with a 55-49 result that may now leave their opponents somewhat demoralised.

The Diamonds dominated the opening two quarters, forcing the home side into costly turnovers and providing their shooters with plenty of scoring opportunities.

Cara Koenen and Kiera Austin enjoyed the luxury of nine more attempts on goal than their NZ counterparts, and propelled the Aussies to a 29-24 advantage at halftime.

But there still seemed a bounce in the Kiwis' step, confident that their best was still to come. Even in their second-test loss - without skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio - they outscored the Diamonds 20-15 over the second half, so their fitness wasn't in doubt.

That superiority was even more marked this time, as the Ferns switched gear, reversing the turnover count and maintaining their torrid first-half shooting form.

Australia's lead was still five goals late in the third quarter, but momentum had switched, with Maia Wilson slotting three successive goals amid her perfect 12/12 period to pull within two. The injection of Kimiora Poi at centre also added another dimension to the Ferns' play.

The final quarter was all New Zealand to the tune of 17-9, as the Diamonds wilted under defensive pressure from Sam Winders in midcourt and Jane Watson under goal.

Successive goals from Ekenasio and Wilson quickly evened the contest, and a 10-5 surge carried them clear over the dying moments. Wilson finished with a 41/43 (95 percent) success rate in a vastly improved NZ shooting effort, even over their first-test win.

The result puts the Silver Ferns in the box seat for Sunday's series decider, to be played in what promises to be a packed stadium under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 in Christchurch.

New Zealand has not held the Constellation Cup since 2012, so victory would assure them that distinction. Under points-countback rules, even a one-goal loss would be enough to snatch the silverware.

NZ 55 (Wilson 41, Ekenasio 14) Australia 49 (Koenen 25, Austin 18, Bassett 6)

Join us at 3:15pm Sunday for live updates of the Silver Ferns v Australia Constellation Cup decider