It isn’t called the Premiership quarter for nothing.
A dominant third quarter from New Zealand helped set them up to claim consecutive Netball World Youth Cup titles overnight, with the Kiwis defeating Australia 60-57 in Gaborone, Botswana.
It was a befitting end to the nine-day international tournament, with the two best teams going head-to-head in the Gold Medal match; a repeat fixture to the finale in Glasgow four years ago. And the result was the same too, with the Aussies unable to maintain their strong start to see New Zealand named World Champions.
There was a silver lining, however, for the Green & Gold with NSW’s Jamie-Lee Price named Player of the Tournament – the accolade cementing the 21-year-old’s placing as a star of the future.
A turnover at New Zealand’s opening centre pass gave the Australians an early lead, but for most part it was a goal-for-goal first 15 minutes. It was a fiery battle of which both sides were more than up for the challenge; speed playing a big hand in deciding the run of play.
It wasn’t until well into the opening term that the Aussies found some breathing room, much in thanks to the strong defensive work from duo Tara Hinchcliffe and Matilda Garrett. But it was also to GIANTS 2018 rookie and long-time NSW representative Kiera Austin who did a mountain of work across the court – providing a strong, mobile target in the shooting circle, whilst also helping to stop the Kiwis’ quick transitional play by applying defensive pressure over the pass.
While Austin and her shooting partner Sasha Glasgow helped the Aussies to a three-goal lead at the first break, New Zealand weren’t to be deterred and fought back hard to own the second quarter – finding the equaliser in the shadows of half-time. This was thanks to strong defensive pressure on the Aussies’ play, which forced mistakes that Kiwi goal shooter Maia Wilson made sure to convert.
After Austin gave the Aussies a one-goal advantage at the big break – converting after the whistle – the Kiwis were quick to find the equaliser once play continued, making the most of their new-found momentum which didn’t pay the dividends they were hoping for in the previous quarter.
And did they find it. The Kiwis found an extra gear as they began to pull away from their opponents – Wilson an absolute powerhouse in the circle to help her side out to a five-goal lead late in the third. It resulted in the Australians introducing 197cm shooter Emma Ryde to the court, hoping to rectify their loss of goals to peg back the deficit.
While the Aussies were only four goals down heading into the final term, it was a daunting task to stem the Kiwi’s momentum as they looked to ramp up for the final 15 minutes. The Aussies seemed lost for answers in their attacking third with Alice Teague-Neeld being introduced at Goal Attack for the final eight minutes to try a different combination to battle the Kiwis defensive stronghold.
In the end it wasn’t enough to derail the Kiwis who weathered the Aussies storm to finish three-goal victors; New Zealand keeper Kelly Jury named Player of the Match. A valiant effort from the Green & Gold saw them win the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough to take home the Gold Medal.
AUS | Q1: 17 – Q2: 28 (11) – Q3: 41 (13) – Q4: 57 (16)
NZ | Q1: 14 – Q2: 27 (13) – Q3: 45 (18) – Q4: 60 (15)
AUS | GS Sasha Glasgow, GA Kiera Austin, WA Jessica Anstiss, C Hannah Petty (C), WD Jamie-Lee Price, GD Tara Hinchcliffe, GK Matilda Garrett
NZ | GS Maia Wilson, GA Tiana Metuarau, WA Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, C Kimiora Poi, WD Fa’amu Ioane, GD Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (C), GK Kelly Jury
AUS | Q3 (Timeout): GA Emma Ryde; Q4 (Timeout): GA Alice Teague-Neeld.
NZ | Q3: GA Monica Falkner.