The Samsung Diamonds have bounced back against the New Zealand Silver Ferns with a three-goal victory in a classic trans-Tasman clash.
After losing the Netball Quad Series trophy against the Ferns in September, the Diamonds played with renewed vigour and passion. They lead by as much as eight goals in the second quarter, before a nail biting final term saw the Australians with a three-goal victory.
“The effort was definitely there for the whole game,” explained coach Lisa Alexander.
“I think we just had few hiccups here and there when we went against the game plan.
“Other than that, I was very pleased with the effort and the pride in representing your country and what that means. I think that was very obvious from both teams tonight.”
It was goal for goal for the first five minutes, before the Diamonds broke the Silver Ferns’ centre pass. The Australians gained four pickups to the Ferns’ two to start the game, and registered a lower penalty count, with 14 to the Ferns’ 17 in the opening quarter. They lead 17 – 13 at the first break.
“The first quarter was really pleasing, that we started off so well and were really creative and smart with our play,” Alexander said.
“Defensively, the chances that were there we grabbed them. We were not as out of play as what we’d been in the previous encounter, so that was terrific. We worked very hard on that.”
The Diamonds remained unchanged into the second quarter, with the Ferns moving Bailey Mes back to goal attack, with Maria Tutaia back to goal shooter.
The intensity stepped up a notch, with physical, one on one contests across the court. The visitors weren’t afraid to work the ball backwards in order to maintain possession and find an opening.
The Ferns injected Kayla Cullen into wing defence and Temalisi Fakahokotau into goal keeper with just over three minutes before halftime, searching for a way to disrupt the Diamonds’ seamless attack. The Diamonds lead 29 – 25 into the main break.
Stephanie Wood entered the game at goal attack for the third quarter, with the Ferns line-up remaining unchanged.
Captain Caitlin Bassett was quick to compliment the work of the Diamonds’ midcourt, saying, “the midcourt were fantastic tonight. They definitely make my job a lot easier, when they are getting the ball moving.
“They were getting the ball on circle edge which made it so much easier for me, both Steph and Susan did an amazing job as well, so they definitely helped in that.”
Momentum swung during the term, both sides able to secure short bursts of three goals in a row, neither able to break away for long. The Ferns brought Samantha Sinclair into centre, replacing Shannon Francois with four minutes left in the third quarter. The Diamonds lead into the final break 42-38.
Caitlyn Nevins entered the game at wing attack in the final term, with Liz Watson moving out to centre. With one goal the margin and just under seven minutes to play, Kim Ravaillion returned to the court in centre, and Liz Watson at wing attack. It was an arm wrestle, both sides putting everything on the line. The Diamonds maintained their composure under pressure and pushed out to a three goal final margin.
Winning in New Zealand was extra special for Bassett, who said “it’s not just winning when we are home in Australia, but we want to make sure that regardless of who we have in the team and where we are playing, we are putting out our best performance and getting the job done.”
The team travel to Christchurch on Friday, before the second Constellation Cup test on Sunday 8 October at 2pm local time.
Samsung Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 39/43 (91%)
Susan Pettitt 10/14 (71%)
Stephanie Wood 8/8(100%)
New Zealand Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Maria Tutaia 31/37 (84%)
Bailey Mes 23/23 (100%)
Match MVP: Gabi Simpson (Australia)
The Diamonds will face the Silver Ferns in the second match of the 2017 Constellation Cup at 12.00pm AEDT Sunday 8 October. Watch live on Nine and the Netball Live app. Tickets are available for the third and fourth Tests in Adelaide and Sydney. Get tickets now.