The Australian Diamonds will return home after England claim a three-nil series victory in Birmingham this morning.
It is just the third time, and first since 2004, that Australia has not won a match during an International Series.
Whilst the series may have been a tough tour for the Australians, NSW Swifts defender April Letton became the 160th athlete to represent the Diamonds after being selected at GK in the starting seven for the final test match, a match which was played on Australia Day (26 January). A huge highlight for April, the NSW Swifts Club and supporters.
The opening quarter saw the Diamonds and England go goal for goal, with the Aussies pulling out to a slight two goal lead halfway through. With easy turnovers marring the final minutes of the quarter, it was the Diamonds who settled quicker, extending their lead to four goals by the end of the quarter, 15-11.
The second quarter saw the Australians up the defensive pressure on England, employing tight man-on tactics to cause the turnover. 2012 Holden International Player of the Year Madison Browne showed her class, taking control in the attacking third to feed plenty of ball to the Australian shooters.
However much like the second match, England etched away at the goal deficit and with two minutes until the big break they evened the score at 24 all. Some level heads from the Diamond defenders gave Cath Cox – acting captain with Natalie von Bertouch out injured – the opportunity to give the Aussies a slim one goal lead at half time, 26-25.
2012 QBE NSW Swifts Most Valued Player Susan Pratley came into GA for the start of the second half, moving Erin Bell to WA and Browne to C. England also made a change, bringing Kadeen Corbin onto GS.
The teams again traded goals at the start of the third quarter; however once again England captain Pamela Cookey led from the front to bring her side into the lead halfway through. It was a goal scoring frenzy in the English attacking third, with the home side winning the quarter 18 goals to 12 to take a five goal lead at the final break, 43-38.
Head Coach Lisa Alexander made further changes to her Diamonds side for the final quarter, bringing NSW representative Kimberley Ravaillion back onto C after resting on the bench during the third; meanwhile Browne moved back to WA and Chanel Gomes came onto GK.
England continued to control the run of play, with a vocal home crowd riding every pass, intercept and tumble. An injury timeout called by Australia brought Bell back onto GA, while defenders Bec Bulley and Gomes swapped to GK and GD respectively.
But the changes did little to stem England’s momentum, who were able to run out to an eight goal lead with two minutes left on the clock. Despite some heroic efforts from the Diamonds, England claimed a seven goal victory to claim the series 3-nil, 58-51.
The Diamonds will now return home and rejoin their ANZ Championship teammates to continue their pre-season preparations.
The NSW Swifts kick off their 2013 season on Monday 25 March against West Coast Fever at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre – purchase a 2013 RED ZONE Membership today to secure your seat at every home game; www.swiftstickets.com.au
AUST Q1: 15 – Q2: 26 (11) – Q3: 38 (12) – Q4: 51 (13)
ENG Q1: 11 – Q2: 25 (14) – Q3: 43 (18) – Q4: 58 (15)
Teams Starting Positions
GS Cath Cox (c)
GA Erin Bell
WA Madison Browne
C Kimberley Ravaillion
WD Renae Hallinan
GD Bec Bulley
GK April Letton
GS Jo Harten
GA Pamela Cookey (c)
WA Sasha Corbin
C Serena Guthrie
WD Sara Bayman (vc)
GD Stacey Francis
GK Eboni Beckford-Chambers
Aust: Q3 – C Browne, WA Bell, GA Susan Pratley; Q4 – C Ravaillion, WA Browne, GK Gomes; Q4 Timeout – GA Bell
Eng: Q3 GS Kadeen Corbin
Tour of England Schedule
Test 1: Monday 21 January England 58 def Australia 53
Test 2: Thursday 24 January England 51 def Australia 49
Test 3: Sunday 27 January England 58 def Australia 51