Records tumble as Diamonds reach gold medal game

 

The Australian Diamonds will face the England Roses in their sixth gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games following a big 65-44 win over New Zealand on Saturday night.

A number of Commonwealth Games records tumbled in the match, with Australia scoring the most points they have ever scored against New Zealand as breaking their previous biggest winning margin over the Silver Ferns in a Games of 18 goals.

The Diamonds will face England in the gold medal match, after the Roses secured a last gasp winner over Jamaica in their medal qualification match to reach their first ever Commonwealth Games final.

Australia and New Zealand had contested every gold medal match since netball was introduced at the 1998 Games, but that run ended on the Gold Coast with the Silver Ferns to play Jamaica in the bronze medal playoff.

The contributions came from all over the court, but the defensive pressure laid the platform for the win with New Zealand restricted to 76 per cent shooting.

Meanwhile the Diamonds finished with a clip of 92 per cent and only gave away six turnovers for the entire match.

Coach Lisa Alexander elected to run with the starting lineup of Caitlin Bassett, Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson, Gabi Simpson and Jo Weston.

The Silver Ferns may have suffered losses to England and Malawai in the pool stages, but they brought the hard-nosed style they are known for into this clash. A huge defensive press in the early stages suffocated the Australian attack, which had been clicking beautifully in the recent preliminary matches.

Susan Pettitt stood tall to take the pressure off skipper Caitlin Bassett, dropping 8/9 from the field as the Diamonds broke down the New Zealand defence to open up a 10-5 lead midway through the first quarter.

The advantage blew out to as many as seven goals, but the Silver Ferns were never going to roll over and their fight slashed that advantage back to just three.

A couple of late goals gave the Diamonds an 18-12 lead at the first change, but the New Zealanders remained firmly in the contest.

Again the Australians skipped out to a big lead, opening up a 22-14 advantage early in the second quarter.

The mid court shined as the Silver Ferns began to turn over the ball in the face of the pressure.

Madi Robinson had two key intercepts as well as 11 assists as Australia opened up a 27-17 lead midway through the quarter.

The Diamonds led 32-21 at halftime, with Caitlin Thwaites, Courtney Bruce, Liz Watson and Steph Wood injected into the fray for the third quarter.

The Silver Ferns came out firing, but wayward shooting cruelled their attempt to reel in the deficit. Meanwhile, the Diamonds were clinical with the ball with a clip of 95 per cent and just 5 turnovers for the majority of the first three quarters.

It was a dominant third quarter, which Australia won 18-9 to open up a 50-30 advantage heading into the final term – a bridge New Zealand was unable to cross in the end.

Australia will play England for the gold medal at 1pm AEST on Sunday.