The Australian Diamonds continue their winning form after defeating the New Zealand Silver Ferns, 58-48, in Game 2 of the 2015 Constellation Cup at Auckland’s Vector Arena.
After claiming the opening contest in Christchurch earlier in the week, the Diamonds weathered a strong contest against the Silver Ferns who were gunning for retribution in front of their home fans. For 50 minutes the game was locked in a thrilling battle with nothing separating the two great rivals.
However the World Champions took control in the final 10 minutes to post a convincing 10-goal win which doesn’t accurately describe the intense contest that was played out.
After treating fans to an exciting contest in the opening match of the series earlier in the week, Game 2 continued to deliver high-intensity netball from the sport’s best athletes. Whilst the match looked to begin in usual AUS v NZ fashion – tough, hard-fought and fast – that was nothing to the level it hit as the clock ticked down.
Bodies flew across the court as players willed to gain possession for their respective sides – the defensive pressure really shutting down any easy passage of play. The visitors, buoyed with confidence from claiming the opening match, were the first to hit the lead and looked settled.
But the Kiwis weren’t to be deterred, their home fans at Vector Arena riding every passage of play and cheering at every Silver Ferns positive play. After trailing by a goal at the first break, New Zealand rallied to gain the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.
With their confidence boosted, the Silver Ferns played with a self-assurance which saw the momentum switch, until a timeout allowed the Diamonds to regroup. After play continued, the visitors looked more settled and patient, and began their assault on clawing back the deficit.
But in the end nothing could separate the two sides at the big break, with a goal on the whistle to Australia’s Nat Medhurst evening the scoreboard at half-time, 27-27.
Both Head Coaches made their first changes for the match to begin their second half – recent debutant Gabi Simpson came onto to WD, moving Clare McMeniman to GD which resulted in NSW Swift Sharni Layton heading to the bench for the third quarter; the Silver Ferns brought on new circle defensive dup Phoenix Karaka and Leana de Bruin to GK and GD, respectively.
The changes did little to disrupt the game’s energy – New Zealand once more gaining advantage on the scoreboard but unable to shake the Diamonds who wouldn’t allow more than a two-goal buffer get away.
A timeout from Swift Paige Hadley with five minutes to play in the third quarter saw the 23-year-old replaced by former Club teammate Gretel Tippett who made her international debut at Wing Attack. Standing at 192cm the youngest Diamond provided a unique tall target in the Diamonds’ midcourt and showed a good connection with her shooters.
Whilst the Aussies got back out to a three goal buffer by three quarter time, New Zealand were up to the challenge of chasing it down and worked hard to once again get back to within one. But their comeback would be short-lived as the diamonds worked patiently, treasuring possession for the shooters to capitalise, to get back out to four goals – the largest lead of the match thus far.
But in the end the Diamonds dominated the final 10 minutes of the match, finishing 10 goals ahead of their great rivals to claim their second consecutive win of the series.
Both teams will now head to Australia for the final two matches of the series, starting with Melbourne this Sunday 25 October at Hisense Arena. The Diamonds are expected to announce a different 12-man team to contest the final two games, comprising of athletes from their extended 15-athlete squad.
AUS│ Q1: 14 – Q2: 27 (13) – Q3: 43 (16) – Q4: 58 (15)
NZ│ Q1: 13 – Q2: 27 (14) – Q3: 40 (13) – Q4: 48 (8)
AUS: 58/61 @ 95%
C. Bassett: 39/41 @ 95%
N. Medhurst: 19/20 @ 95%
NZ: 48/56 @ 86%
B. Mes: 30/32 @ 94%
J. Brown: 16/22 @ 73%
A. Wells: 2/2 @ 100%
AUS│ GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Nat Medhurst, WA Paige Hadley, C Kim Ravaillion, WD Clare McMeniman, GD Sharni Layton, GK Laura Geitz (C)
NZ│ GS Bailey Mes, GA Jodi Brown, WA Grace Rasmussen, C Laura Langman (VC), WD Kayla Cullen, GD Katrina Grant, GK Casey Kopua
AUS│ Q3 – WD Gabi Simpson, GD McMeniman; Q3 Timeout – WA Gretel Tippett.
NZ│ Q3 – GD Leana de Bruin, GK Phoenix Karaka; Q3 Timeout – GA Ameliaranne Wells; Q4 – GA Brown; Q4 Timeout – GD Grant.
|2015 Constellation Cup – Fixtures/Results|
|Game 1: Tues 20 Oct||AUS Diamonds 50 d NZ Silver Ferns 44||Horncastle Arena, Christchurch NZ|
|Game 2: Thurs 22 Oct||AUS Diamonds 58 d NZ Silver Ferns 48||Vector Arena, Auckland NZ|
|Game 3: Sun 25 Oct||AUS Diamonds v NZ Silver Ferns||Hisense Arena, Melbourne AUS|
|Game 4: Fri 30 Oct||AUS Diamonds v NZ Silver Ferns||Perth Arena, Perth WA|