The Samsung Diamonds have taken a 2-0 lead in the Constellation Cup, with an eight-goal victory over the Silver Ferns in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon.
It took three and a half minutes for Susan Pettitt to shoot the Diamonds’ first goal, after Ferns started with two early turnovers.
“I think we were really challenged in the first quarter,” admitted coach Lisa Alexander.
“I could see just a little bit of hesitancy coming in, and then we got our teamwork together halfway through and came through really strongly in that quarter.
“I thought that was a tremendous sign that there’s been a lot of growth in the group, digging in and doing the things, they really stuck to the game plan.”
Six and a half minutes into the game, Caitlin Bassett scored her 2000th international goal. After a stifled start, a flurry of five consecutive goals from the Diamonds in the closing minutes of the game saw them lead at the first break 14-11.
The second quarter saw Bassett making more leads out of the shooting circle, her combination with Pettitt leaving the home side’s defenders guessing. The away team lead into the main break, 29-26, both sides scoring 15 goals in the second term.
Courtney Bruce and April Brandley played tight onto the Ferns’ shooters, combining with Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion to execute visible pressure on the home side.
Halfway through the quarter, Te Paea Selby-Rickit was introduced to the game at goal shooter for the Ferns, Tutaia moving to goal attack.
“We just wanted to make sure we really exploited our unit work in defence…we took care of a few little areas, particularly with the different arrangement with Mes at goal attack and Tutaia at shooter,” said Alexander.
“I think some smart work was done, particularly around the outside, and then that pressure down the court was very committed.”
Stephanie Wood entered the game at goal attack in the third quarter for the Diamonds, with Kayla Cullen into wing defence and Temalisi Fakahokotau into goal keeper for the Ferns. Further changes were made by the Ferns with just under six minutes left in the quarter, with Samantha Sinclair into centre and Shannon Francois to the bench.
“The switch between Susan and Steph, they both bring some much to that goal attack position,” said captain Caitlin Bassett.
“They are both really different, it’s great to play with both of them. It’s not too hard to adjust either, they just slot in so well.
“They are both very confident in their own game plans and they are confident to put the ball up, which helps me a lot.”
Wood registered her best international shooting performance in what was her fourth test, with 12 goals from 14 attempts in one half of netball.
Bullet-like passes and multiple leads when transitioning from defence to attack, allowed the Diamonds to take a 44-39 into final term.
“Particularly for the whole team, from Invercargill to now, I think it’s just that development every time we step out on court, growing those connections,” said Bassett.
“We saw them tighter again today and I’m really excited for what it’s going to be in Adelaide.”
Samsung Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 40/44 (91%)
Susan Pettitt 8/9 (89%)
Stephanie Wood 12/14 (86%)
New Zealand Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Maria Tutaia 26/29 (90%)
Bailey Mes 10/13 (77%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 16/19 (84%)
Match MVP: Liz Watson (Australia)
The Diamonds will face the Silver Ferns in the third match of the 2017 Constellation Cup at 7.00pm ACDT Wednesday 11 October. Tickets are available for the third and fourth Tests in Sydney and Adelaide. Get tickets now. Watch live on 9Gem and the Netball Live app.