Diamonds shine to equal Kiwi series

Australia have atoned for their first-up loss to New Zealand in the Constellation Cup with a 48-42 victory in Auckland.

Lisa Alexander's team lifted for the master coach in her 100th Test, levelling the four match series at 1-1 on Wednesday night.

Gretel Tippett (23/24) was supreme under the ring, ably assisted by captain Caitlin Bassett (17/20) and Tegan Philip (8/9).

But this was a win masterminded by the back.

Goal keeper Courtney Bruce subdued the Maria Folau-led Silver Ferns attack with an intensity that lifted the whole Diamonds side.

She made five intercepts and was called for obstruction just four times in a defensive masterclass.

"She just controlled the circle. She patrolled the circle tonight. It was absolutely fantastic to watch," Alexander said.

Only once in the match did the contest look to be slipping from Australia's grasp - the third-quarter spell when Folau (31/41) sank six shots without reply to whittle the Diamonds' lead from 10 to four.

The veteran attacker had a chance to narrow the lead to three on the eve of the last change, only to miss a long-range effort.

The four-Test series now heads to Sydney and Perth, where wins would allow Australia to retain the trans-Tasman trophy for the seventh-straight time.

"We've put ourselves in a great position now for the rest of the series," Alexander said.

"We'll go home and land and feel like winners."

While the world No. 1 Diamonds boasted historical dominance over the Kiwis, New Zealand had won the previous two hit-outs - including the World Cup final - by a single goal.

So when Bassett missed her first effort of the night to the delight of the sold-out crowd, the Kiwis were confident.

It was the only time they led all night.

Australia shot at 100 percent for the rest of the quarter and kept up their sharpness.

Together with Jo Weston, Bruce showed superb sharpness inside the circle.

Australia's three-goal quarter-time lead was whittled to one when a contentious stepping call on Tippett went against the goal attack.

But the Diamonds responded, with Bruce leading the way.

Her three first-half intercepts each led to Australian goals, helping the visitors to a five-goal lead at the break.

Tippett was rested as one of three half-time changes, allowing Philip to return to international netball for the first time in three years.

Australia were relieved to reach the last change after weathering Folau's damaging spell.

Bassett sat out the fourth quarter, with Philip deputising superbly as the Diamonds shut out hopes of a Kiwi comeback.