Australia has opened the Real Insurance Netball Test Series with a hard-fought 49-40 victory over New Zealand at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena tonight.
In their first match on home soil since winning the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in August, the Diamonds have taken a 2-0 lead over the Silver Ferns in the Constellation Cup series courtesy of their nine-goal victory.
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett was named Player of the Match for her strong performance to spearhead the Diamonds to their seventh consecutive victory over New Zealand.
The nine-goal win was also Australia’s 15th consecutive victory overall since September last year.
Diamonds’ captain Laura Geitz praised the Silver Ferns’ performance after Australia had won the previous two contests by 18 and 17 goals respectively.
Geitz said the Diamonds are now focused on clinching the Constellation Cup in Game 3 in Sydney this weekend.
As they did in the opening Test at Invercargill, the Diamonds got away to a quick start and led by four goals 11-7 at the first break.
The start of the second term saw the Silver Ferns hand a Test debut to ex-Queensland Firebird Ameliaranne Wells, who replaced Bailey Mes at goal attack, and the 25-year-old scored with her first attempt in international netball.
The Diamonds got away to a six-goal lead early in the term before the Silver Ferns pegged the deficit back to three at the main break thanks to some great defensive pressure in the midcourt and accurate shooting by Catherine Latu, who shot at 100 per cent for the half, and Wells.
Diamonds’ coach Lisa Alexander made changes to her line-up to start the second half with Kimberlee Green taking over the centre bib from Kim Ravaillion and Tegan Caldwell replacing Natalie Medhurst at goal attack for her Test debut on home soil.
Caldwell shot the first three goals of the third term to quickly extend the Diamonds’ half-time lead out to 10 goals mid-way through the quarter.
But the Silver Ferns refused to wilt and enjoyed a strong period of play late in the term to close the margin to five goals before a late Bassett goal gave the Diamonds a 35-29 heading into the last quarter.
After Bassett scored the opening goal of the final term, the Silver Ferns kept surging through Latu and Wells as they made the Diamonds pay for some crucial errors to close to gap to just two goals in the early stages of the quarter.
But the Diamonds again steadied and were able to pull away to an advantage the gallant Silver Ferns just couldn’t produce one more fightback from. Caldwell was on target in the last term to finish the match with nine goals at 90 per cent accuracy in her first match in the green and gold in front of her home Melbourne crowd.
In an impressive performance, Latu finished the match with 25 goals at 100 per cent accuracy while Wells looked solid on her international debut with 14 goals.
The series now heads to Sydney’s Allphones Arena (Saturday 11 October) for Game 3 before concluding in Auckland on Tuesday 15 October.
|Coach ALEXANDER Lisa|
|de BRUIN Leana||GK|
|Coach TAUMAUNU Waimarama|