Vice-captain Caitlin Bassett has broken her personal international record thanks to a strong team performance in Auckland, with 55 goals from 64 attempts, as the Diamonds returned to their winning ways.
Wing defence Gabi Simpson was named player of the match, with three intercepts, three deflections and three pick-ups.
The combination between Bassett and fellow shooer Gretel Tippett flourished as the pair played their first full game together.
“It is just the way it works out with Gretel,’ said Diamonds’ Coach Lisa Alexander. “She is such a beautiful goal assister but she can always shoot herself so we will probably work at her doing a little more shooting to take the pressure off Caitlin a little bit more. The opportunities presented themselves and she put them in mostly when it was the right decision.”
Alexander identified that Bassett had improved on her performance in Launceston against Anna Harrison, and was stronger.
“She knew what to expect, she had a very definite plan on what she was going to do on Anna and she executed that very well,” she said.
It was a fast and furious start to the game, neither team giving an inch in a hotly contested battle. Nothing could separate the two after the first quarter, with scores locked at 13-all.
Just six minutes into the second term it was back to end-to-end netball, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seat. The Ferns replaced Grace Rasmussen with Gina Crampton with four minutes remaining, after which the Diamonds broke out to a four-goal lead into the main break.
Alexander opted to remain with her starting seven in the third quarter, with Maria Tutaia making her return to the Ferns goal attack bib, and Rasmussen moving back to wing attack. The Diamonds caused confusion in the Ferns shooting circle, maximising their intercepts. Two break-aways saw the Australians storm out to a 10 goal lead before ending the third quarter with an eight goal margin.
Although a strong lead, the Diamonds never felt comfortable with their margin. Captain Clare McMeniman explained that “on court, it an incredibly grinding and tough game right until the end.”
”Even with that last spurt that New Zealand had coming back at us at the end of the fourth quarter, it makes you feel like they are breathing down you neck with only one or two goals in it.”
“I don’t think we were ever in a position where we felt comfortable in terms of the lead we had and we were always wanting to push further. Given we know the New Zealand has the ability to come back very, you can’t be complacent with the lead you have.”
After a two-goal loss in Launceston, the Diamonds translated the lessons learnt to a 12-goal victory.
“What the Constellation Cup teaches all of the players are some really great lessons about how to back up and that you can’t take anything for granted in any international netball,” said Alexander.
“You can’t bring slightly less than your best because you’ll get punished by the other team. It was a great lesson to learn in many respects, thank goodness it wasn’t the World Cup final. The response was excellent but there will still be things we can improve on.”