In front of a new world record crowd of 16,244 at Allphones Arena, the Diamonds advanced to the gold medal match after out-working the gallant Sunshine Girls. The win set them up with a chance to emulate the feats of the 1991 Australian team by winning the Netball World Cup on home soil.
The Diamonds will face off against New Zealand on Sunday afternoon at 3.20pm (AEST) for the gold medal for the sixth time since finals were introduced to the Netball World Cup format in 1991.
The Silver Ferns had a comfortable 50-39 victory over England in the first semi-final earlier in the day to continue their unbeaten run through the tournament – including a five-goal victory over Australia last Sunday.
Australian captain Laura Geitz declared the Diamonds are ready to make amends for that loss and make it a hat-trick of Netball World Cup crowns, having previously won the title in 2007 and 2011.
“We’ve had an opportunity, just like they’ve had with us, to watch all their games and come up with a game plan different to the one we had on Sunday and try and execute it to the best of our ability,” Geitz said.
“We’re really excited about earning a spot in the Grand Final. It’s been a big week for everyone and to finish on the big one against our old rivals would be huge.”
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett was the star for the Diamonds, scoring 49 goals at 94 per cent accuracy to equal a career-best performance at international level set in last year’s Commonwealth Games Gold Medal play-off.
The match-up that everyone was anticipating came to fruition with Queensland Firebirds premiership teammates Romelda Aiken (Jamaica) up against Geitz in the Sunshine Girls goal circle.
The Diamonds took advantage of some early errors by the Sunshine Girls to quickly race to a 5-1 lead.
But, despite a perfect shooting quarter by Bassett and Natalie Medhurst, Jamaica settled and slowly edged its way back into the contest to close the deficit to two goals at quarter-time.
The Diamonds came out firing to start the second term, re-establishing a five-goal advantage in the opening minutes as Bassett continued to find the target.
That lead grew to nine goals mid-way through the quarter, which the Diamonds maintained right through to half-time. Bassett went to the break with a perfect 26 from 26 attempts.
The Sunshine Girls started the second half better with the first three goals of the third term to cut the margin to six goals – and it stayed that way for the rest of the quarter as the two sides traded goals.
Australia led by seven goals at three-quarter time after Jamaica narrowly won the term 16-14.
Sharni Layton replaced Geitz at goal keeper to start the final term and made an immediate impact, producing a crucial intercept which sparked a min-run by the Diamonds and saw them increase the lead to 11 goals.
Jamaica made one last attempt to get back into the match with Aiken switching to defence and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid coming into goal shooter. Fowler-Reid scored three goals in a row to give the Sunshine Girls a glimmer of hope.
But the Diamonds were not to be denied and broke away in the final minutes to register an 11-goal victory.
The Gold Medal Match of the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS and Network TEN at 3.00pm (AEST). Check your local guide for details.
Official Result & Statistics
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (67) defeated JAMAICA (56)
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics:
Caitlin Bassett 49/52 (94%)
Natalie Medhurst 18/19 (95%)
Jamaica shooting statistics:
Romelda Aiken 33/36 (92%)
Shanice Beckford 14/16 (88%)
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 9/10 (90%)