The Australian Diamonds have one hand on retaining the Constellation Cup after defeating the New Zealand Silver Ferns, 49-40, in tonight’s second test at Hisense Arena.
The second contest of the four-Test series, the Diamonds have two games to their name after claiming the opening match in Invercargill last week. With the third Test this weekend at Sydney’s Allphones Arena, the Australians could claim the series with a win on home soil before heading back over the Tasman for the final contest in Auckland.
Despite Bailey Mes missing her first attempt at goal, it was the Silver Ferns who opened the scoring after WA Grace Rasmussen pulled in a handy offensive intercept for GS Cathrine Latu to find the post. The next few minutes saw both sides put on plenty of defensive pressure, forcing turnovers early. A small purple patch to the Australians late in the opening quarter saw them take a handy four goal lead into the first break.
While the Diamonds scored back-to-back goals to open the second quarter, the focus was on a young Queenslander making her debut in the Black dress. Former Firebird Ameliaranne Wells was given the GA bib, making her international debut, and nailed her first long-range attempt.
Wells inclusion seemed to spark a resurgence in the Silver Ferns camp, who shrugged off the Aussies strong finish to the opening quarter to get back to within three goals after six minutes of play. However it was as close as the Diamonds would allow them, with the Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists holding out a resurgent Kiwis to lead 24-21 at the big break.
The second half saw the Aussies make their first line-up changes, with the introduction of NSW Swift Kimberlee Green at Centre and Tegan Caldwell at GA. The changes did little to disrupt the Diamonds, who posted five unanswered goals before debutant Wells found the post for the Kiwis. The Aussie onslaught continued and by the time a timeout was called halfway through the quarter, the Diamonds were out to a 10-goal lead.
However the Kiwis wouldn’t be discouraged, working hard to stay in touch with their Tasman rivals, pulling back to trail by six goals at the final break.
The momentum remained with the Silver Ferns who enjoyed their own purple patch, pulling within two goals five minutes into the final quarter. But once again the Diamonds dug deep, holding out their spirited opposition to pull back out to claim a nine goal victory.
It will be a short turnover for both sides as the Diamonds and Silver Ferns heading to our shores to take the court at Allphones Arena this weekend, Saturday 11 October. Should the Australians win the third test they will retain the Constellation Cup, having won three out of the four matches.
It’s sure to be a thrilling contest, so make sure you’re there to cheer on our girls in Green & Gold! Tickets are still available – head to the Ticketek website and secure your seat today!
Real Insurance MVP: Caitlin Bassett, Australian Diamonds
DIAMONDS│ Q1: 11 – Q2: 24 (13) – Q3: 35 (11) – Q4: 49 (14)
SILVER FERNS│ Q1: 7 – Q2: 21 (14) – Q3: 29 (8) – Q4: 40 (11)
DIAMONDS: 49/57 @ 86%
Caitlin Bassett: 33/40 @ 82.5%
Nat Medhurst: 7/7 @ 100%
Tegan Caldwell: 9/10 @ 90%
SILVER FERNS: 40/49 @ 82%
Cathrine Latu: 25/25 @ 100%
Bailey Mes: 1/4 @ 25%
Ameliaranne Wells: 14/20 @ 70%
DIAMONDS │ GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Nat Medhurst, WA Madi Robinson, C Kimberley Ravaillion, WD Renae Hallinan, GD Julie Corletto, GK Laura Geitz (c)
SILVER FERNS │ GS Cathrine Latu, GA Bailey Mes, WA Grace Rasmussen, C Laura Langman, WD Joline Henry, GD Katrina Grant, GK Casey Kopua (c)
DIAMONDS │ Q3 – GA Tegan Caldwell, C Kimberlee Green.
SILVER FERNS │ Q2 – GA Ameliaranne Wells; Q3 – WA Liana Leota, GD Kopua, GK Leana de Bruin; Q4 – GD Grant, GK Kopua.