The Australian Diamonds have farewelled retiring Captain Clare McMeniman by retaining the Constellation Cup with a 49-45 win in Invercargill.
“To send Clare out as captain on this fine win tonight, because it was an honourable win as the Silver Ferns really brought it tonight, I am just terribly proud of all the girls,” said Coach Lisa Alexander.
“They put in lots and lots of work and our support staff and bench were magnificent as well so it’s very very pleasing.”
With both teams opting to keep their same starting seven as the third Test, the Diamonds applied pressure from the opening whistle, causing a turnover from the first centre pass.
Gretel Tippett’s first goal of the game half-way through the opening quarter was her signature lay-up, a move yet to be seen during the Constellation Cup series. The away team led by as many as six goals during the opening term, going into the first break with a 13-9 advantage.
The second quarter saw both teams capitalising on turnovers. Natalie Medhurst was called on into goal attack with five minutes remaining, just one minute after Maria Tutaia replaced Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal attack for the Ferns. The Diamonds went into the main break leading 22-19.
“It was a great contest for all of us defensively. Madi and Gabi did an amazing job out the front,” said outgoing Captain Clare McMeniman.
“There were passages where they were having to play the ball all the way back to their defensive transverse line to open up opportunities and I thought that pressure really enabled us to win more ball tonight and force more errors.”
Alexander opted to return to her starting seven for the third term, whilst the Ferns remained unchanged. It was a physical tousle. The Diamonds outscored the Ferns 14 – 13, with three less attempts at goal and just one misfire.
Pressure was applied across the court from both teams.
“There were passages where the ball was coming up and back with no goals scored, which is testament to both teams and the pressure they were applying throughout the full match,” McMeniman explained.
The pressure stepped up another notch into the final term, both sides finding an extra inch. Tutaia kept the Australian defenders on their toes with her shots from range, much to the delight of the Invercargill crowd.
With one minute on the clock, the Ferns, fought to within two goals. A pickup from McMeniman and some swift movements saw the Diamonds seal the victory with two late goals in the last 30 seconds.
The Diamonds will go their separate ways tomorrow, with pre-season training for the national netball league commencing in a matter of weeks.
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (49) defeated NEW ZEALAND SILVER FERNS (45)
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 42/46 (91%)
Gretel Tippett 7/10 (70%)
Nat Medhurst 0/0
New Zealand Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Bailey Mes 19/27 (70%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 9/11 (82%)
Maria Tutaia 17/20 (85%)
Australia starting seven – GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Gretel Tippett, WA: Madi Robinson C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Clare McMeniman, GK: Sharni Layton
New Zealand starting seven – GS: Bailey Mes, GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit, WA: Grace Ramussen, C: Shannon Francois, WD: Laura Langman GD: Katrina Grant, GK: Anna Harrison
Match MVP: Kim Ravaillion (Australia)
Photography: Michael Bradley