The Australian Diamonds have taken a commanding grip on retaining the Constellation Cup after defeating New Zealand 58-48 in a hard-fought second Test at Auckland’s Vector Arena.
The lead chopped and changed for three quarters before the Diamonds got on top of the Silver Ferns just before three-quarter time.
Then a dominant final quarter performance by the Diamonds – including scoring the last seven goals of the game – saw them power away to a 10-goal victory and they return home with a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.
A victory in Sunday’s third Test at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena will see Australia claim the Constellation Cup for the third straight year.
In a high-intensity contest, twice New Zealand led Australia by as much as four goals in the first half and threatened to take control of the match.
But some brilliant shooting by Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst – who only missed three shots between them for the match – ensured the Diamonds were able to keep pace with the Silver Ferns, who were determined to give coach Wai Taumaunu a win in her last Test on New Zealand soil.
The duo shot at 100 per cent accuracy for the first half with their first miss being the opening shot of the third term.
Bassett, who enjoyed a solid contest with Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua and then youngster Phoenix Karaka, scored her first 23 goals without a miss and finished the match with 39 goals at 95 per cent accuracy.
Medhurst was named the Most Valuable Player for the second straight game in her 75th Test, which took to her outright 10th on the all-time list of matches played for Australia.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander ran the changes in the second half with Clare McMeniman, who started at wing defence for the injured Renae Ingles, moving back to goal defence to replace Sharni Layton.
With Kim Ravaillion in centre, it also meant the Australia’s entire front court was made up of players from the reigning ANZ Championship premiers Queensland Firebirds.
Australian captain Laura Geitz was again a tireless workhorse in the defensive circle and showed her class by producing a couple of timely deflections at crucial stages of the game.
Her contest with Silver Ferns’ shooter Bailey Mes was one of the highlights of the match.
The final two Tests of the 2015 Constellation Cup series will be played in Melbourne and Perth Arena (30 October).
Official Result & Statistics
Australian Diamonds (58) defeated New Zealand (48)
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 39/41 (95%)
Natalie Medhurst 19/20 (95%)
New Zealand shooting statistics
Bailey Mes 31/34 (91%)
Jodi Brown 15/19 (79%)
Ameilaranne Wells 2/2 (100%)