Fittingly that came against New Zealand – the country which whom Australia has developed a fierce rivalry against over the past 76 years – in Melbourne on August 20, 1938.
When the Diamonds take to the court against England in the second match of the Real Insurance Netball Test Series in Canberra on Wednesday night it will be a significant milestone in Australian netball history as the country’s 400th Test match.
The Diamonds have an 83 per cent winning record overall and, from their previous 399 internationals, have shot 22,893 goals and conceded 14,093 goals.
Coincidently, Australia also took on England in its 300th Test match on 25 March at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Australia won the game 52-40.
Australia’s 100th Test match was played against Jamaica in the New Zealand city of Palmerston North on 6 May 1986, which the Caribbean country won 41-40. But Australia celebrated its 200th Test match by defeating the Silver Ferns 56-35 in Melbourne on 29 June 1996.
In the lead-up to the historic milestone, we take a look back at five of the memorable Test matches that Australia has played over our history.
1998 Commonwealth Games Final
Netball was introduced to the Commonwealth Games for the first time and Australia claimed the historic gold medal with a 42-39 win over arch rivals New Zealand in the Final. Scores were level at three-quarter time after Australia had led by five goals at the main break. But captain Vicki Wilson and a young Sharelle McMahon spearheaded Australia to gold and a place in history. It would be the 63rd and final Test played by wing defence Simone McKinnis while Australia’s three-goal victory saw Australia set a new 10-game winning streak record against New Zealand – which still stands today.
1999 World Championships Final
This is still regarded by many as one of the greatest ever international games of netball ever played and the vision of Sharelle McMahon shooting the winning goal with seconds to play and the subsequent celebrations has been replayed over and over. Played in front of a parochial crowd in Christchurch, the Silver Ferns looked set to take back the world crown off Australia when they led by six goals at three-quarter time. But McMahon inspired Australia’s comeback and a famous rebound by Liz Ellis in the final minute ensured the trophy remained in Australian hands at the end of the 20th century.
2002 Commonwealth Games Final
As if the ’99 World Championship Final wasn’t thrilling enough, Australia and New Zealand went one better when the two countries played off for the gold medal in Manchester, England. Australia was almost the walking wounded heading into the match and trailed New Zealand for most of the first half before levelling up the scores heading into a pulsating finish. The match went into extra time and, with millions of fans holding their breath, again it was McMahon who stepped up to be the hero for Australia. She shot the goal that gave Australia a two-goal advantage and the coveted gold medal.
2011 World Championships Final
It was the moment that launched Diamonds’ goal shooter Caitlin Bassett into international stardom. After New Zealand led by six goals, Australia fought back to level the match at the end of regular time, sending another Final into extra time. The two sides traded goal for goal over the next 14 minutes and 55 seconds until the ball went into the hands of the `super sub’ Bassett and she shot calmly slotted her 27th goal of the Final – and 151st of the tournament – to deliver Australia’s its 10th world title. It would also be Norma Plummer’s final match as Australian coach.
2014 Commonwealth Games Final
This result sits right up near the top in terms of dominant performances by an Australian team in the Final of major tournaments. The Diamonds went into the Gold Medal play-off against New Zealand determined to make amends for a heartbreaking loss to the Silver Ferns at Delhi four years earlier and end the country’s 12-year drought. After an ever first quarter, Australia simply put on a master class clinic for the Glasgow crowd and the millions watching the match around the world to record an 18-goal victory – the biggest winning margin in a Commonwealth Games Final. Caitlin Bassett’s 49 goals capped off Australia’s campaign.