The Australian Diamonds underscored their vast improvement, holding off a fast finishing New Zealand on Monday night to defeat their arch-rivals by five goals in the fourth netball Test at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.
The 52-47 victory allowed the Diamonds to clinch the series and reclaim the Constellation Cup for the first time since 2011. The Australians lead the series 3-1, with just one Test to play in Canberra on Sunday.
After leading by 10 goals at the final break, the Australians became sloppy in the mid-court and the Kiwis grabbed their chances. The New Zealanders found movement in their goal third and quickly cut the margin to three.
It was the steady hand of team leaders and defenders Laura Geitz and Bianca Chatfield, who were able to stop the Kiwi roll. A late intercept by captain Geitz pushed the ball to wing defence Renae Hallinan which allowed the Australians to score against the flow.
The Australians then pushed the lead back out to five.
After a tight opening quarter, the Diamonds used their fast ball movement to open up their own attacking circle. Australian shooters Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst again showed their enormous potential as a long-term pairing.
Medhurst was awarded the most valuable player on the court for her impressive mid-court work and excellent passing into her shooting partner as well as 12 goals from 14 attempts.
It was Medhurst, along with Kim Ravaillion at centre and Kimberlee Green at wing attack, who fed the ball cleanly to Bassett, who continues to live up to her potential and showed growing confidence in her own movement and ended the night with 40 goals from 44 attempts.
The Silver Ferns had started the match with a massive surprise, goal shooting legend Irene van Dyk on the bench and, surprisingly – in such a critical match – did not take the court all night.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander praised her team’s ability to steady when New Zealand launched a strong comeback.
The Australians had dominated to lead by 10 goals at three-quarter time, but the Silver Ferns hit back hard in the opening minutes of the last quarter to cut the lead to three points.
Alexander said she was delighted her young team had stood strong when they were put under pressure.
‘‘The girls out on court tonight really faced their foe head on,’’ she said.
‘‘The Silver Ferns were much more disciplined tonight and also made life difficult for us through the midcourt and in our goal third.
‘‘I thought we found a way to score and use our pace still, but I thought we were patient too.’’
New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu was still concerned about the number of penalties her side gave away.
She believed her team had at times been able to slow down Australia’s high-pace game but believed the Diamonds had got away from her team ‘‘in patches’’.
She said her shooting combination of Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu had given away too many penalties.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.