Silver-wash   6 Jul 2004

By Mark Hotton

Victory over Australia in the third netball test on Monday night has only strengthened the Silver Ferns’s world champion status.

In a spirited and hotly contest match, the New Zealand team had to overcome a three-point deficit in the final quarter to secure the win and the 3-0 series whitewash. The victory extends the team’s winning streak over the Australians to four, starting with the world title decider in Jamaica last July, and has only reinforced the Kiwis netball dominance.

After Australia's domination of trans-Tasman clashes for most of the 1990s, New Zealand have now won seven of the past 13 encounters between the countries. Ace shooter Irene Van Dyk didn’t start the match and was brought on at halftime, and set about reducing the Australian’s lead.

The final quarter was a tense affair but New Zealand was able to claw back the lead, eventually winning comfortably 53-46.

Earlier in the second test, the Silver Ferns again had to hold off a spirited comeback by Australia to win 52-50.

The Silver Ferns appeared to be coasting to victory when leading by eight goals with a quarter to go but a series of turnovers allowed the Australians to rein in the deficit and produce a nailbiting finish.

Van Dyk delivered another strong shooting display. While she did not quite match her 97.5 per cent strike rate from the first test in Christchurch on Wednesday night, she grabbed 39 goals from 43 attempts, and her 91 per cent return was head-and-shoulders above the three other shooters on display from both sides.

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