Netball: Silver Ferns toppled by Australia again to lose Quad Series final

The Silver Ferns have fallen to a 56-50 defeat againt Australia in the Quad Series final in South Africa on Thursday (NZ time).

Coming just three days after their 59-57 win during group play, the result sees the Australians fire another warning shot directly across the bow of the New Zealanders just six months out from the World Cup, which will be held at the same location. 

Locking up their seventh Quad Series title in eight tournaments, the Diamonds have now won their last four encounters against New Zealand, solidifying their standing as favourites heading into the pinnacle event in July.

Grace Nweke soars to reel in a pass.
Grace Nweke soars to reel in a pass. Photo credit: Getty

The Ferns made a strong start to the match, pouring in 19 goals in a staggering first-quarter onslaught.

But the Diamonds ramped up their defensive pressure and mistakes quickly followed, as they pulled back the ledger and trail 31-30 at the half.

The third quarter proved the decisive stage of the contest. The error-ridden Ferns coughed up seven turnovers and only managed to convert nine goals, conceding a four-goal deficit heading into the final quarter from which they never recovered.

Ferns phenom Grace Nweke struggled to find her rhythm in front of goal, landing 39 of her 45 attempts, with Ameliaranne Ekenasio a perfect 11/11.

Meanwhile, Australian goal shoot Cara Koenen made the Kiwis pay for their mistakes throughout, shooting a near flawless 33/34.

Result aside, Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua insisted her side would take plenty away from their dress rehersal in South Africa.

"This has been really important that all the players know what their plan is coming out of here, where our gaps are as a team, where we need to improve, not only as a playing base but also as a coaching group to try and find that magical ingredient," said Dame Noeline.

"Although it was disappointing to lose the final, I’m really happy, once again, that we’ve been able to pull ourselves together quite fast, considering we’ve had a few changes in our squad.

"It's just been a massive tick to be here."

After playing every minute of the Quad Series, Nweke was named the best player and shooter of the tournament, while Kate Heffernan earned the award for best midcourter.

England beat hosts South Africa 49-42 in the third-fourth place playoff.

Australia 56 (Koenen 33/34, Wood 23/28) Silver Ferns 50 (Nweke 39/45, Ekenasio 11/11)