The Samsung Diamonds have put out a warning ahead of the Commonwealth Games, reclaiming the Netball Quad Series title by registering their biggest margin against New Zealand since 2012.
The Diamonds have beaten the Silver Ferns by 19 goals or more just 10 times in their 138 encounters, most recently on 21 October 2012, winning 68-48.
“To have won the trophy back with such a definitive performance and also to get everyone out on court at some stage during the test series, as a coach, I can’t ask for much more than that,” said head coach Lisa Alexander.
“Today we achieved what we set out to do, which was that continuous improvement within each game. That’s the challenge I put to the players at the start.
“They should be extraordinarily pleased with themselves, they represented our country and netball in Australia with discretion,” she said.
The Australians were ruthless from the first whistle, pushing out from a five-all tie halfway through the opening quarter to take an 8-goal lead into the first break, 17-9.
The Ferns made seven substitutions across the second term whilst the Diamonds stuck with their starting lineup. Jo Weston was sent the bench due to the blood rule, bringing April Brandley into the game. The Diamonds extended to a 12-goal advantage at halftime, 35-22.
Alexander said the Diamonds were anticipating numerous changes from the Silver Ferns, stating “we knew that was going to happen.”
“New Zealand are still also going through that process of figuring out the best combinations for them for the Commonwealth Games as well. We’ve got our systems in place to deal with that now, and I think that was very strong tonight,” she said.
Susan Pettitt joined the game at goal attack in the third quarter, and Emily Mannix came on at goal keeper with five minutes left in the term. Changes were seamless, with connections firing across the court. The Diamonds were relentless in attack and defence, pushing their lead out to 17 goals at the final break, 54-37.
The Australians prepared for the test expecting a tough tussle, as has been the result of the other Quad Series games.
“We were ready for a fired up kiwi team,” said Alexander. “They played very well against South Africa, better than they did against England, and we expected them to improve again.
“We knew we had to do the things that were important for us to shut them down, and what you saw today was the execution of that, paired with some very smart play,” Alexander explained.
Paige Hadley made her return in green and gold for the first time in 12 months, on at wing attack, with Caitlin Thwaites to goal shooter and Jo Weston to goal defence for the final term.
It was also a milestone game for centre Kim Ravaillion, who played her 50th international for Australia after debuting in January 2013.
The Diamonds won each quarter and finished the game 67-48.
The Samsung Diamonds travel back to their home states in Australia on Sunday evening, with the Commonwealth Games team to be announced in early February.
Samsung Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 6/10 (60%)
Stephanie Wood 14/19 (74%)
Caitlin Thwaites 6/10 (60%)
Susan Pettitt 18/22 (82%)
New Zealand Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Bailey Mes 4/7 (57%)
Maria Folau (nee Tutaia) 16/21 (76%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 28/30 (93%)
Match MVP: Liz Watson (Australia)