The Australian Diamonds have been crowned inaugural winners of the Netball Quad Series, with a five-goal victory over traditional rivals the New Zealand Silver Ferns.
The game was an arm-wrestle from the opening whistle, with the lead changing hands a staggering ten times.
“It was a great, well fought match between the two countries,” explained Diamonds Head Coach Lisa Alexander.
“I know New Zealand have got some younger, inexperienced players and so have we. It was just really exciting to see everyone out there. It was really well fought – a great spectacle.”
The Ferns took almost six minutes to secure the first break of the match. However, unanswered goals at the end of the first quarter saw the Diamonds go into the first quarter break with a three-goal lead.
It was the Ferns who made the most of the second term, netting the opening five goals before the Diamonds fought back to end the first half at 30 goals a-piece. The home side looked slick in attack, with Madi Robinson and Kim Ravaillion providing plenty of ball to their shooters.
Alexander reshuffled her defensive unit in the third quarter, sending acting captain Clare McMeniman to wing defence and April Brandley into goal defence. The move provided additional height in the goal circle and blocking ability through the midcourt, seeing the Diamonds close out the term with a one-goal lead.
“I thought Clare did a good job to begin with but we knew April would come on and provide just that bit more height in the circle and just get up to those high balls. Not that this one (Clare) can’t do that, it is more difficult – she’s shorter and she plays a different style of game,” said Alexander. “Then we had Clare’s blocking ability at wing defence which is just hard to move around.”
Fans were on the edge of their seats leading into the final quarter. The Diamonds dialed up their intensity, with a vocal home crowd cheering them on. A burst of four goals, scored within a minute, with just 90 seconds on the clock saw the Diamonds storm home to victory.
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 53/60 (88%)
Natalie Medhurst 7/8 (88%)
New Zealand Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Bailey Mes 23/34 (68%)
Amelieranne Ekenasio 32/37 (87%)
Australia starting seven – GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Natalie Medhurst, WA: Madi Robinson C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Clare McMeniman, GK: Sharni Layton
New Zealand starting seven – GS: Bailey Mes, GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, WA: Grace Ramussen, C: Laura Langman, WD: Kayla Cullen, GD: Katrina Grant, GK: Jane Watson
Match MVP: Natalie Medhurst (Australia)