The New Zealand Silver Ferns have kept the Constellation Cup series alive with a 50-47 win over the Australian Diamonds in the third Test at Hisense Arena in Melbourne on Sunday 25 October.
The Australians led by as many as nine goals in the third quarter but with some new combinations on court, the Silver Ferns stayed in touch before rallying in the final quarter to steal victory.
2016 Swifts recruit Laura Langman said the Silver Ferns had the edge in the final minutes by maintaining intensity throughout the match, an area where they had fallen short in the first two Tests.
“We just had to keep persevering and let the ball go, and that’s what we did,” Langman said.
“I was great to see we maintained intensity.”
With Diamonds’ Captain Laura Geitz sitting out the two Australian Tests, Sharni Layton had her first chance at GK and immediately looked more comfortable.
It was goal-for-goal for much of the opening quarter with some bad passes from the Aussies allowing the Silver Ferns to hang with the Diamonds.
It was only in the last minutes of the quarter that Australia pulled away, with tough one-on-one defence forcing the Silver Ferns into tough passes that didn’t quite come off; the Diamonds holding a 15-9 lead at the first break.
The Silver Ferns forced the Australians into two held balls in a row and both teams started to cough up turnovers but the Diamonds were able to hold onto a handy lead.
New Zealand got within three goals before Natalie Medhurst stepped up to knock down two long range shots with Caitlin Bassett well covered by the opposition, helping Australia set up a seven-goal lead at halftime, 28-21.
Caitlin Thwaites joined her 2016 Swifts teammates Sharni Layton on court for the Diamonds after halftime. Both teams were forced to play with patience as they struggled to penetrate the defence.
The Silver Ferns got within four goals before Paige Hadley entered the court at an injury timeout with coach Lisa Alexander hoping to get some more movement back into the frontline but it wasn’t enough to hold off the charging Kiwis, who levelled at 36-36 at the final break.
Erin Bell replaced Caitlin Thwaites at three-quarter time, pairing with Natalie Medhurst for a short and speedy shooting circle for the Diamonds. The Silver Ferns scored the first three goals of the term to lead for the first time before the Australians got back on level pegging, 43-43 with seven minutes left to play.
The teams were trading goals with each centre pass but when the Silver Ferns scored back-to-back and went ahead 47-45 the Australians called a quick time out, with debutant Jo Weston coming on at GD in an attempt to disrupt the Kiwis rhythm.
New Zealand added another before the Aussies got back on the board once again but they soon ran out of time, the Silver Ferns keeping the series alive with a three-goal win.
Quarter-by-Quarter Scores AUS│ Q1: 15 – Q2: 28 (13) – Q3: 36 (8) – Q4: 47 (11) NZ│ Q1: 9 – Q2: 21 (12) – Q3: 36 (15) – Q4: 50 (14)
Shooting Statistics AUS: 47/53 @ 89% C. Bassett: 24/25 @ 96% N. Medhurst: 10/13 @ 77% C. Thwaites: 5/6 @ 83% E.Bell: 8/9 @ 89%
NZ: 50/69 @ 72% B. Mes: 29/40 @ 73% M. Paseka: 4/6 @ 67% J. Brown: 17/23 @ 74%
Starting Line-ups AUS│ GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Nat Medhurst, WA Gretel Tippett, C Kim Ravaillion, WD Ash Brazill, GD Claire McMeniman GK Sharni Layton
NZ│ GS Bailey Mes, GA Malia Paseka, WA Grace Rasmussen, C Laura Langman, WD Kayla Cullen, GD Katrina Grant, GK Casey Kopua
Positional Changes AUS│ 3Q: GS Caitlin Thwaites; 3Q timeout: WA Paige Hadley; 4Q: GS Erin Bell NZ│ 2Q: GA Jodi Brown, GD Katrina 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||NZ Silver Ferns 50 d AUS Diamonds 47||Hisense Arena, Melbourne AUS|
|Game 4: Fri 30 Oct||AUS Diamonds v NZ Silver Ferns||Perth Arena, Perth WA|