Diamonds shine in thrilling Constellation Cup finish

Diamonds Constellation Cup celebration 664

The Australian Diamonds have come from behind to beat the New Zealand Silver Ferns 50-49 in the final Test of the 2013 Constellation Cup at the AIS Arena in Canberra on Sunday.

Trailing by four goals midway through the final term, the Diamonds stormed home to claim a thrilling one goal victory and a fourth consecutive win over the Silver Ferns for the first time since 1998.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made two changes to the starting side that wrapped up the Constellation Cup series on Monday, with shooter Caitlin Thwaites handed her first international start while Madison Browne took over the centre bib.

It took two minutes before the scorers were troubled with Thwaites giving the hosts an early advantage in a mistake riddled first quarter.

The Australians committed too many unforced errors in transition while New Zealand worked well around the circle edge as shooters Catherine Latu and Maria Tutaia found their range under the post.

Despite a lack of flow in attack the Diamonds took a 13-10 lead into the first quarter.

The visitors struck back in the second quarter, limiting the Diamonds to just eleven attempts for the stanza with strong defence keeping the Australian attackers off the circle and limiting the effectiveness of their feeds.

The Silver Ferns converted a three-goal deficit into a three-goal advantage by half-time.

Alexander turned to the bench at the break and introduced Caitlin Bassett at goal shooter with immediate impact.

The substitute scored six consecutive goals to start the third quarter to re-established s Diamonds’ three-goal advantage before the Silver Ferns again battled back to level the scores 32-32 at three-quarter time.

In the final outing between the trans-Tasman rivals before next year’s Commonwealth Games, the visitors gained an early upper hand with a 46-42 lead with seven minutes to play after some costly turnovers by the Australians.

With time running out, Alexander shuffled the deck for one last time and brought on Erin Bell at goal attack while Kim Green and Browne swapped their wing attack and centre bibs.

The changes provided the spark the Diamonds desperately needed as the hosts played with urgency to level the scores 49-49 before Bassett scored the winning goal with 13 seconds remaining after a frenetic final minute.

The one goal victory sealed a 4-1 series victory for the Diamonds and an important shot of confidence heading into the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand’s Maria Tutaia was named player of the match.

Starting lineups:

Australian Diamonds New Zealand Silver Ferns
GSCaitlin ThwaitesCatherine Latu
GANatalie MedhurstMaria Tutaia
WAKimberlee GreenShannon Francois
CMadison BrowneLaura Langman
WDRenae HallinanJoline Henry
GDBianca ChatfieldCasey Kopua
GKLaura GeitzLeana de Bruin

Shooting statistics:

Q1.

Australian Diamonds (13) v New Zealand Silver Ferns (10)
GSGA
AustraliaThwaites 11/13 (85%)Medhurst 2/3 (67%)
New ZealandLatu 4/5 (80%)Tutaia 6/8 (75%)

Q2.

Australian Diamonds (23) v New Zealand Silver Ferns (26)
GSGA
AustraliaThwaites 6/6 (100%)Medhurst 4/5 (80%)
New ZealandLatu 6/6 (100%)Tutaia 10/13 (77%)

Q3.

Australian Diamonds (32) v New Zealand Silver Ferns (32)
GSGA
AustraliaBassett 11/14 (79%)Medhurst 4/4 (100%)
New ZealandLatu 7/8 (88%)Tutaia 5/7 (71%)

Q4.

Australian Diamonds (50) v New Zealand Silver Ferns (49)
GSGA
AustraliaBassett 9/11 (82%)Medhurst 0/1, Bell 3/3 (100%)
New ZealandLatu 8/8 (100%)Tutaia 3/5 (60%)

Total

AustraliaNew Zealand
Caitlin Bassett 20/25 (80%)Catherine Latu 25/27 (93%)
Caitlin Thwaites 17/19 (89%)Maria Tutaia 24/33 (73%)
Natalie Medhurst 10/13 (77%)
Erin Bell 3/3 (100%)