The Australian Diamonds have confirmed their credentials as World Number One with a stunning 60-55 triumph over the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne.
The win sees the Diamonds claim a series clean sweep and take home the silverware after what was a thrilling Quad Series campaign.
The first quarter was evenly matched with goal shooter Caitlin Bassett getting the Aussies off to a flying start, but the Kiwis were quick to respond with her counterpart Bailey Mes providing a strong target in the circle; despite the attention she received from rival, 2016 NSW Swift Sharni Layton.
The intensity continued to build throughout the game, with both Diamonds and Ferns going goal-for-goal until the hosts broke away after finding some momentum in defence.
But they couldn’t fully get away from their opposition, with the Ferns staying in touch. Vice-Captain (and Layton’s Swifts teammate) Laura Langman proved a thorn in the Aussies’ side as she led the Kiwis on a fightback; the visitors clawing back a three-goal deficit to even the scoreboard at 30-goals apiece at half-time.
The Aussies made the first (and only) changes at the big break, with Captain Clare McMeniman moving to the wing to make way for April Brandley (nee Letton) to partner with Layton at goal defence. While the change brought on fresh legs, it took the Aussies awhile to adjust to the combination switch; in the meantime the Kiwis made their move. A late run of goals to the Silver Ferns saw them move within one goal of the Aussies as the game headed into the final 15 minutes.
The final quarter provided a classic trans-Tasman contest as players willed themselves into battle. It was a see-sawing affair, as the Aussies pulled out to a handy lead only for the Kiwis to fight back. Their efforts saw the Silver Ferns hit the lead late in the game, which ignited a fire in the Diamonds. With just minutes remaining the Australians dominated the run of play which set up the five-goal victory as the Silver Ferns just didn’t have the legs to keep up with their hosts.
Netball fans won’t have to wait long to see the highly-anticipated re-match, with the Diamonds and Silver Ferns contesting the 2016 Constellation Cup in October. The four-Test series will be split evenly between New Zealand and Australia-hosted games, with Qudos Bank Arena set to hold a match on Sunday 9 October. GET YOUR TICKETS.
Quarter by Quarter Scores:
AUSRALIA | Q1: 17 – Q2: 30 (13) – Q3: 44 (14) – Q4: 60 (16)
NEW ZEALAND | Q1: 14 – Q2: 30 (16) – Q3: 43 (13) –Q4: 55 (12)
AUSTRALIA: 60/68 @ 88%
C Bassett: 53/60 @ 88%
N Medhurst: 7/8 @ 88%
NEW ZEALAND: 55/71 @ 77%
B Mes: 23/34 @ 67%
A Ekenasio: 32/37 @ 86%
AUSTRALIA | GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Natalie Medhurst, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Clare McMeniman, Gk: Sharni Layton.
NEW ZEALAND | GS: Bailey Mes, GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, WA: Grace Rasmussen, C: Laura Langman, WD: Kayla Cullen, GD: Katrina Grant, GK: Jane Watson.
AUSTRALIA | Q3: GD: April Brandley
Match MVP: Nat Medhurst (Australia)