Constellation Cup: Silver Ferns dust off the rust with win over Australia in opening test

The world champion Silver Ferns have notched an opening test victory over Australia in the Constellation Cup.

Looking to win the trans-Tasman netball trophy for the first time in nine years, New Zealand's 49-44 victory in Christchurch will have blown out any rust in the first meeting between the two best sides in the world for 18 months.

Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua opted for a slick midcourt combination, selecting the impressive Claire Kersten at centre, Samantha Winders at wing defence and Gina Crampton at wing attack.

The trio combined superbly throughout the contest, providing the attacking impetus needed to break down a resilient, but young Australian defence.

All three provided excellent service to the shooting circle, with Maia Wilson starring under the net, nailing several long attempts to finish with 31 goals from 40 shots.

The opening exchanges went goal for goal, before a late flurry saw the Ferns end the quarter with a 14-10 advantage.

The story would be much the same in the next two quarters, with the homeside taking a nine-goal lead into the final 15 minutes.

But Australia made several changes, including a debut for Verity Charles, and as the Ferns tired, defender Courtney Bruce pulled off several fourth-quarter interceptions.

The Diamonds won the final frame by four goals against a stifled Ferns attack, but it wasn't nearly enough to repair the damage of the first three quarters.

Silver Ferns shooters Wilson and skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio played the entire 60 minutes, but will want to improve their shooting accuracy after a 78 percent return.

The second match is scheduled for Wednesday night at the same venue.

Silver Ferns 49 (Wilson 31/40, Ekenasio 18/23) Australia 44 (Bassett 19/21, Austin 18/24, Koenen 7/7)

Join us at 7:15am Wednesday for live updates of the second New Zealand v Australia Constellation Cup test