The Samsung Diamonds have held off a confident England Roses, winning their second test in London 50-46.
There were three changes to the Diamonds’ starting line up from test one, with Suncorp Super Netball shooting pair Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood given the nod, as well as goal defender Jo Weston.
Leading into the game, coach Lisa Alexander had emphasised how important it would be for the Diamonds to hold onto their connections. They used these connections, playing with patience and precision in the opening quarter, leading at the first break with a five-goal advantage 16-11.
Alexander said, “we had worked on our patience, and they were very disciplined on maintaining connections out on court, I was delighted. Particularly with the transition out of defence when we got a turnover, there was much improvement on the first game.”
England brought Beth Cobden into wing defence replacing Jade Clarke in the second quarter, whilst the Diamonds stuck to their starting seven. The pressure intensified, with players on both teams registering momentum breaking deflections and intercepts.
Veteran English defensive duo Geva Mentor and Ama Agbeze doubled up on Caitlin Bassett, with Stephanie Wood left free to make leads out of the circle and feed back into her captain.
With just under six minutes until halftime, Eboni Beckford-Chambers entered the game at goal defence for England, with Natalie Haythornthwaite replacing Pitman in wing attack.
“We’ll take away a bit of learning around some of their changes and who they brought on,” said Alexander. “I was very pleased, particularly with Gabi nullifying Chelsea quite early in the match. We know that Chelsea will be back and she will learn from that, but we were pleased.”
The away team held their lead, finishing the first half 28-21.
Alexander called on the depth of her 12, with April Brandley introduced into goal defence in the third quarter, combining with Bruce to confuse the space in the England circle. With five minutes remaining in the third term, Susan Pettitt came on into goal attack. The Roses gained momentum, scoring the last six goals of the term to reduce the margin to three goals, 37-34.
“One of the things we talk about is to look to each other, and change things up if we need to,” said Alexander. “When our opposition gets a bit of a run on, sometimes we need to change things in attack and defence. We did that a few times with positional switches.”
The coach said the changes were part of being in the team, and also provided an opportunity for players to see the game from a different perspective. “April coming on for a quarter gave Jo a rest on the bench, who then came back on and did a great job in the last quarter for us. We gave Steph a bit of a breather too, and Susan came on and put her shot in, doing what needed to be done.
“That’s part of being part of a team. They understand that all of them will have different roles to play at different times,” she said.
The Diamonds returned to their starting seven for the final quarter, with Weston and Wood back on court. England switched Corbin into goal attack, with Housby moving back to goal shooter, creating leads for the Roses.
Caitlin Thwaites moved into goal shooter with eight and a half minutes remaining in the game and Eleanor Cardwell replaced Corbin for the Roses. Weston, who was named player of the match, adjusted well to England’s third change in goal attack.
The Diamonds capitalised on their opportunities, making the most of every error from the English side. Thwaites stood strong under the post, shooting goals under pressure in the dying minutes of the game.
The Samsung Diamonds will now travel to Johannesburg, ahead of their final Quad Series test against the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Sunday.
Samsung Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 30/32 (94%)
Stephanie Wood 14/19 (74%)
Caitlin Thwaites 5/5 (100%)
Susan Pettitt 1/1 (100%)
England Roses shooting statistics
Kadeen Corbin 12/16 (75%)
Helen Housby 33/36 (92%)
Eleanor Cardwell ½ (50%)
MVP: Jo Weston (Australia)
Find out how you can watch the replay and Sunday’s game against New Zealand here.