The Australian Diamonds overcame a rejuvenated Silver Ferns side to win the final Constellation Cup Test 50-49 at the AIS Arena, Canberra on Sunday.
The Silver Ferns were bolstered by the return of Leana de Bruin at GK and although the Kiwis led early on after a nervous start from both teams, it was the Australians who were in front at the first break, 13-10.
After a relatively quiet series by her standards, Casey Kopua had more of an influence, tallying four intercepts and four deflections in the first half alone. Kopua was not the only Kiwi defender to lift with Joline Henry and de Bruin coming to play.
After going goal-for-goal for much of the second quarter, Maria Tutaia started to pop in some long bombs to help the Silvers Ferns score the final three goals of the period to lead 26-23 at halftime.
Lisa Alexander brought Caitlin Bassett on at GS in the third quarter as she aimed to give her attack end more structure in transition.
The Diamonds went on to score the first six goals in the term, setting up a three-goal lead. However neither team was able to wrest momentum for long as the Silver Ferns drew even before the Australians broke away again.
The Kiwis were not to be outdone however with their zone-style defence providing some easy pickings for their defenders, allowing the New Zealanders to draw level at the final break, 38-38.
It was edge-of-your-seat action in the final quarter as the Silver Ferns broke away to lead by three midway through the term but the Australians rallied with a re-jigged attacking line; Erin Bell coming on at GA and Green and Madison Browne trading WA and C bibs.
In the final minutes it looked as if the Silver Ferns had sealed victory but in the frantic dying seconds the Australians rattled off four goals to steal the win, finishing the series 4-1.
While the Constellation Cup has finished, the Coles Netball Test Series continues on Wednesday when the Australian Diamonds, with the addition of Swifts midcourter Paige Hadley, take on the Malawi Queens in Wollongong, followed by the final international Test of the season on Saturday on the Gold Coast – Tickets available from Ticketek.
DIAMONDS – Q1: 13 – Q2: 23 (10) – Q3: 38 (15) – Q4: 50 (12)
SILVER FERNS – Q1: 10 – Q2: 26 (16) – Q3: 38 (12) – Q4: 49 (11)
DIAMONDS: 50/60 @ 83%
Caitlin Thwaites:17/19 @ 89%
Natalie Medhurst: 10/13 @ 77%
Caitlin Bassett: 20/25 @ 80%
Erin Bell: 3/3 @ 100%
SILVER FERNS: 49/60 @ 82%
Cathrine Latu: 25/27 @ 93%
Maria Tutaia: 24/33 @ 73%
Teams Starting Positions
DIAMONDS: GS Caitlin Thwaites, GA Natalie Medhurst, WA Kim Green, C Madison Browne, WD Renae Hallinan, GD Bianca Chatfield (vc), GK Laura Geitz (c)
SILVER FERNS: GS Cathrine Latu, GA Maria Tutaia, WA Shannon Francois, C Laura Langman (vc), WD Joline Henry, GD Casey Kopua (c), GK Leana De Bruin
3Q: GS Caitlin Bassett
4Q timeout: GA Erin Bell, WA Browne, C Green
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