The Australian Diamonds have set the tone for the Constellation Cup, winning the first Test by equaling their highest ever score against the Silver Ferns with 68 goals, in front of 15,161 fans at Qudos Bank Arena.
Caitlin Bassett had a standout performance, shooting 47 goals in three quarters of netball, without missing a shot.
She was complimented by goaling partner Gretel Tippett in the opening half, which was described by coach Lisa Alexander as a ‘dream start.’
“Gretel trained extremely well this week and I think her combination with Caitlin built in the training sessions, so we felt very confident to put it out there in this first game,” explained Alexander.
“We have to do that for Gretel’s development as a Diamond but also to give New Zealand something different to think about.”
After a strong start, with the home side leading 32 – 22 into the main break, the coaches elected to adjust combinations during the second half.
Natalie Medhurst entered the game seamlessly at goal attack in the third quarter, with April Brandley joining Sharni Layton in defence.
A strong midcourt provided ample ball to the shooting circle, allowing Bassett to flourish.
“(Our midcourt) made the adjustments they needed to make and were really available, particularly when C-Bass (Caitlin Bassett) was on the move,” said Alexander
“(They made sure) the passes and the connections were really sharp between them so I have to give them a pat on the back as well.
“I think Ravi (Kim Ravaillion) and Madi (Robinson) did a great job in that first half and when Nat came on in that third quarter, it was seamless in that attack end and that’s what we wanted to see.”
In the final term Liz Watson replaced Kim Ravaillion at centre, with Caitlin Thwaites moving into goal shooter for MVP Bassett.
The Diamonds polished their performance from the last time they played the Ferns in the Netball Quad Series, with an increase in midcourt pressure.
“We had excellent midcourt pressure from Gabi (Simpson) and Rav (Ravaillion), they stuck to their players like glue,” captain Clare McMeniman said.
“That was something we had to work on from the last time we played the Ferns in Melbourne. Both April and I were also able to apply more pressure to that goal attack role.”
The Constellation Cup moves to Launceston on Wednesday, with the Diamonds to host the Ferns at The Silverdome for the first time in 30 years.
*Article courtesy of Netball Australia; Picture: Narelle Spangher