Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz said New Zealand’s performance in the second Constellation Cup Test in Melbourne has sent a stark reminder to her players about their world-class capabilities.
The Diamonds head to Sydney for Saturday night’s third Test leading the Silver Ferns 2-0 in the four match series and can retain the trophy with a victory at Allphones Arena.
But Geitz said New Zealand’s improved performance at Hisense Arena on Wednesday night – where they fought back from a 10-goal deficit to draw within two in the last term – was a valuable lesson to the Diamonds that they can’t afford to lapse at any stage of the match against a side laden with talent.
“Credit to the Silver Ferns; as we said pre-match just beware of the wounded bull and they’re such a world class side,” Geitz said.
“That’s exactly what you expect from them and we’ll expect another step up in Sydney. I thought they put out a fantastic performance but I’m just so proud of our team and what they did in that last quarter.”
The 49-40 victory in the opening match of the Real Insurance Netball Test Series extended the Diamonds winning streak over New Zealand to seven Tests – and 15 overall – but Geitz said the score line didn’t reflect the closeness of the match.
“We’ve come off two really solid wins, they’ve now had the opportunity to look very closely at what works for us and did a great job in shutting that down,” Geitz said.
“That’s definitely in our favor (because) they’ve come out and showed they’re well within our reach and that puts us in a good place heading to Sydney.”
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett said the Silver Ferns didn’t allow the Diamonds’ midcourt of Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson and Kimberlee Green to dominate like they did in the first Test at Invercargill or in the Commonwealth Games Final.
“They did a great job in really slowing down the ball, which they know is one of our strengths,” Bassett said.
“That gave (their defence) more opportunities to have a hunt and they timed it quite well and it did make it harder to get it down to the circle.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander described Wednesday night’s match as “a little bit of a chess game” and said New Zealand’s defensive pressure had lifted from the previous encounter.
“I did say to our defenders we need to keep changing up and thinking ahead three moves,” Alexander said.
“I thought they got some great turnover ball but we just wasted it which we know we’ve got to address and we’ll look at that at training.
“They were probably a little bit smarter with their contests and they were hungrier and in our faces most of the game. We got Madi double teamed at different times and we forced the ball so they did a good job there.”
But Alexander is happy to be heading to Sydney holding a 2-0 advantage.
“So whilst you could say that they would feel good about the fact that they got closer to us, I still thought we didn’t play as well as what we did in Invercargill,” Alexander said.
“So that’s something for us to address and to work on.
“And as I’ve said to everyone – probably ad nauseum – we’ve got improvement to come. But in saying that, you don’t always know what your opposition’s going to bring, and I thought they brought a great game tonight and they played very well.”
The 2014 Constellation Cup continues on Saturday 11 October when the Australian Diamonds host the Silver Ferns at Sydney’s Allphones Arena from 7.00pm (AEST).
The match will be shown live on FOX Sports and SBS2 and also broadcast live on ABC Grandstand online. Tickets are still available and you can click here to purchase a seat.