UPDATE: Diamonds Captain Laura Geitz has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2014 International Netball Series, which includes two Tests against England Netball starting this weekend > Read the full report from Netball Australia…
The Australian Diamonds have claimed a cleansweep of the 2014 Constellation Cup after defeating the New Zealand Silver Ferns, 51-47, in an exciting final Test of the series.
After losing their inspirational leader, Captain Casey Kopua, to injury and playing in front of a loud Kiwi home crowd, the Silver Ferns put out a terrific contest which pushed the Aussies to a come-from-behind victory.
It was the final time the top two World Ranked nations would face each other before the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 in August next year – and for the first time in history, will open the World Netball Championships in the first round.
NSW Swifts shooter Caitlin Thwaites opened the scoring, showing supreme balancing skills on the baseline to find the post from midway. However the Silver Ferns had an answer soon after, setting up a goal-for-goal opening quarter. Soon the Silver Ferns found themselves with a two-goal lead in front of home fans, only for the Aussies to chase it down.
Back and forth the teams took turns enjoying the lead, with the Diamonds holding a slim one-goal lead at the first break.
The second quarter saw New Zealand unveil their second debutant for the Constellation Cup series, with Auckland local Temalisi Fakahokotau given the GK bib. It was met to a huge round of applause as Fakahokotau took to the court in front of her Northern Mystics home crowd.
However it was stand-in Captain Laura Langman who proved to be the game changer for the home side. The side’s Vice Captain, taken Captaincy duties in the wake of Casey Kopua’s injury, was in and around everything by taking crucial intercepts as well as delivering great ball to her shooters.
But again the teams were locked in a game of see-sawing goals. After Langman’s third intercept for the match, the Silver Ferns hit the front much to the adulation and cheers of the home crowd. They continued to withhold an Aussie onslaught to take a one goal buffer into half-time, leading 22-21.
The break allowed Lisa Alexander to make her first changes to the Diamonds, bringing on West Coast Fever duo Caitlin Bassett and Nat Medhurst to the shooting circle, with youngster Kim Ravaillion handed the C bib.
However they wouldn’t be the only changes for the quarter, with an early timeout from Laura Geitz seeing NSW Swifts defender Sharni Layton replace her Captain at GK; the move giving Swifts fans an early look at the Layton/Corletto combination in action!
The multitude of changes did little to disrupt the Silver Ferns momentum, who continued to treasure the lead and keep their opposition at bay. The home side got out to the largest lead of the match, four goals, halfway through the quarter and were able to sustain it until the final break despite some pressure from the Diamonds.
Early in the final 15 minutes to Aussies had got back within two goals, with thanks to some hard work from GA Medhurst in the front end. An injury timeout was called after the Aussies posted three unanswered goals to level the scores.
The Silver Ferns came out of the short break firing, getting back out to a three goal advantage; but again, the Aussies chase them down and took back the lead with under four minutes on the clock. Digging deep, the Diamonds kept calm heads to hold on and claim their ninth consecutive victory over their Tasman rivals.
The Diamonds will now return home to Australia to contest a two-Test series against England Netball, starting this Sunday 19 October in Bendigo. Tune in and cheer loud for your girls in Green & Gold! Broadcast starts at 1:30pm AEST on both SBS 2 and Fox Sports.
DIAMONDS│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 21 (9) – Q3: 34 (13) – Q4: 51
SILVER FERNS│ Q1: 11 – Q2: 22 (11) – Q3: 38 (16) – Q4: 47
DIAMONDS: 51/57 @ 89%
Caitlin Thwaites: 15/16 @ 94%
Tegan Caldwell: 6/9 @ 67%
Caitlin Bassett: 20/22 @ 91%
Nat Medhurst: 10/10 @ 100%
SILVER FERNS: 47/64 @ 73%
Bailey Mes: 22/33 @ 67%
Jodi Brown: 25/31 @ 81%
DIAMONDS│ GS Caitlin Thwaites, GA Tegan Caldwell, WA Madi Robinson, C Kimberlee Green (vc), WD Renae Hallinan, GD Julie Corletto, GK Laura Geitz (c)
SILVER FERNS│ GS Bailey Mes, GA Jodi Brown, WA Grace Rasmussen, C Laura Langman (c), WD Joline Henry, GD Katrina Grant, GK Leana de Bruin
DIAMONDS│ Q3 – GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Nat Medhurst, C Kim Ravaillion; Q3 Timeout – GK Sharni Layton.
SILVER FERNS│ Q2 – GK Temalisi Fakahokotau; Q4 Timeout – GK Leana de Bruin.