Diamonds crowned world champions on home soil

SUNDAY 16 AUGUST - Australia (AUS) v New Zealand (NZL) in the Gold Medal game on Day 10 of the Netball World Cup 2015 SYDNEY. Photo: Murray Wilkinson (NWC2015 Media)
The Australian Diamonds have claimed their 11th world title after defeating New Zealand 58-55 in a pulsating final of the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

In front of a new world record crowd of 16,752 at Allphones Arena, the Diamonds made it a hat-trick of world titles, successfully defending their crown from 2007 and 2011.

A blistering opening quarter set up Australia’s victory and the Diamonds withstood a spirited second half fightback by New Zealand to emulate the feats of the 1991 Australian team in winning the world title on home soil.

Veteran defender Julie Corletto bowed out on a high in her final Test match for Australia, winning her third world title along with goal attack Natalie Medhurst.

It was Australia’s highest regulation score in a Netball World Cup match against New Zealand, eclipsing the 53 scored in the triumphant 1991 Final.

Australia’s accuracy was the difference between the two sides as the Silver Ferns had 11 more shots on goal than the Diamonds. Caitlin Bassett finished the match with 48 goals and praised the work done by the players in front of her.

“The drive to the circle was amazing; the girls were bringing the ball down really quickly and Nat did a great job in keeping goal defence busy which kept me in a one-on-one situation which was perfect,” Bassett said.

Australian captain Laura Geitz said she was proud of her team for bouncing back from their loss earlier in the tournament to the Silver Ferns.

“To finish like that in front of our home crowd, to have family here and to play with that particular group of girls, to play with Julie Corletto, it’s wonderful to step into the defensive circle with such a wonderful athlete,” Geitz said.

“World Cup netball, that’s what it comes down to; hard work and just grinding away. Our attackers were just sensational and capitalised on every tip and touch that we got and the first quarter set us up nicely.”

Coach Lisa Alexander started with the same line-up from Saturday’s semi-final against Jamaica with Corletto the only change to team that faced the Silver Ferns earlier in the tournament.

Unlike their earlier encounter, the Diamonds were the dominant team early as they jumped to a six-goal lead.

Corletto and Geitz were at their miserly best in defence and Bassett and Medhurst were only too happy to convert their turnovers in attack.

A 4-0 run late in the quarter saw the Diamonds open up a nine-goal lead which they took into the first break as New Zealand was held to just seven goals, its lowest-scoring quarter of the tournament.

Australia led by as much as 12 goals mid-way through the second quarter as the Diamonds wings Renae Hallinan and Kimberlee Green continued to have a major influence and Bassett was standing up to the intense pressure of the New Zealand defence.

But some brilliant long-range shooting by Maria Tutaia late in the quarter saw the Silver Ferns cut the margin to eight goals at half-time.

The two countries traded goal for goal to start the third quarter and it was New Zealand who gained the first decisive break, the Silver Ferns continuing to make in-roads on Australia’s lead.

They cut the gap to four goals late in the term before the Diamonds steadied with the last two goals to head into the final term with a six-goal advantage. That was the same margin between the two sides last Sunday, but in New Zealand’s favour.

Every New Zealand challenge was answered by the Diamonds in the opening minutes of the last quarter and Australia gained the break it was looking for, converting on a Silver Ferns error to edge out to an eight-goal advantage.

The Silver Ferns made one late rally but the clock beat them and the Diamonds enhanced their ranking as the world’s undisputed number one netball nation.

Malawi goal shooter Mwayi Kumwenda was named the Player of the Tournament for the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

Official Result & Statistics
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (58) defeated NEW ZEALAND (55)

Australian Diamonds shooting statistics:
Caitlin Bassett 48/51 (94%)
Natalie Medhurst 10/13 (74%)

New Zealand shooting statistics:
Maria Tutaia 38/53 (72%)
Bailey Mes 17/22 (77%)