New-look Diamonds earn redemption in New Zealand

Cara Koenen of Australia looks to pass the ball during the Constellation Cup. Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

The reimagined Australia Diamonds and their new coach have revitalised the national netball team's rebuilding process with a series-levelling 45-36 win against New Zealand at Christchurch Arena.

Liz Watson's first taste of international captaincy was a compelling audition for the permanent gig as coach Stacey Marinkovich's new-look outfit brushed away the rust from their shaky first glimpse in Game 2 of the four-match Constellation Cup campaign.

New Zealand's Silver Ferns will be hoping captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio's calf injury recovers in time for Game 3 on Saturday because she was dearly missed from the home side's shooting circle.

In contrast, Diamonds pair Cara Koenen (29 goals at 85 per cent) and Kiera Austin (13 goals at 54 per cent) were far more confident as they laid the base for a combination that promised to endure.

Australia addressed the poor ball retention and discipline that blighted their opening performance by giving away an improved 19 turnovers and conceding just 49 penalties to New Zealand's 58.

At the heart of it all was Watson whose 33 feeds and 21 assists provided the direction the Diamonds needed. New Zealand never quite clicked and struggled despite the efforts of shooter Maia Wilson (32/38).

Marinkovich gave most of the starters who were steamrolled by New Zealand in Game 1 a second chance.

The exceptions were Koenen, who replaced veteran shooter Caitlin Bassett, and midcourter Jamie-Lee Price who was preferred in the match-day side over Gabi Simpson.

Watson led a centre court riposte after being upstaged by the Kiwis the previous night.

The Australian general had more feeds than Gina Crampton and Claire Kersten combined at quarter-time and by the halfway point of the second term all three Silver Ferns starting midcourters had been replaced.

New Zealand staged a third-quarter fightback, prompting Marinkovich to hand a Test debut to goaler Sophie Garbin.

The Ferns won the second half 20-15 to show some resolve ahead of the series' conclusion.