Silver Ferns seal series win over Diamonds

Jamie-Lee Price of Australia is challenged by Shannon Saunders of New Zealand. Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Stacey Marinkovich's reign as Australia's national team coach has begun with disappointment after the Diamonds let slip the Constellation Cup for the first time in eight years with a 45-43 loss to New Zealand.

The world champion Silver Ferns are now again the dominant southern hemisphere presence after their gutsy triumph in Christchurch sealed the four-match series 3-1.

The Diamonds needed to win by at least three goals to extend their Constellation Cup dominance to an eighth campaign.

Their title defence was under siege in the third term when Kiwis captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and mid-courters Gina Crampton and Kimiora Poi helped turn an eight-goal deficit into a two-goal lead.

New Zealand held their nerve in a tight last quarter while the Diamonds had little left in the tank when the series was on the line.

Diamonds captain Liz Watson was not at her best in the series finale but she remains the heaviest contributor to the team.

Watson added a game-high 27 feeds in the decider and, along with Courtney Bruce, was one of two players to feature in every minute of the series.

Ekenasio's nine goals was not her sole contribution as she added 25 feeds, most of them to star goal shooter Maia Wilson (36 goals).

Marinkovich again stuck mostly with the bulk of the starting seven that played through the final three Tests of the campaign.

There were no minutes for former skipper Caitlin Bassett in the final series match, with Keira Austin (28 goals) and Cara Koenen (15 goals) unable to haul the Aussies over the line.

New Zealand's prospects of wrestling back the trophy from the visitors started bleakly when the Diamonds restricted them to their lowest single quarter tally of the series.

An energised Jo Weston erected a shield around the top of the Ferns' shooting circle to restrict the hosts to just six first-quarter goals.

The faith the Ferns' showed in each other and their combinations gained momentum as pressure mounted in the second half.