The Australian Diamonds have been left needing to win
both Tests in New Zealand next week to retain the Constellation Cup after going
down 54-52 to the New Zealand Silver Ferns in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Silver Ferns led at every quarter to win their first Test at Hisense Arena
since 2008 and take an early lead in the three-Test series before the remaining
games in Auckland and Christchurch on Thursday and Sunday respectively.
"(The Silver Ferns) were extraordinarily patient with the ball and frustrated
us, we could not turn the ball over and it’s a credit to them, they actually
out ‘Australian-ised’ us,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said post match.
"They weren’t unsettled by Casey (Williams) not being in the line up, they’ve
got great defenders across the board and they did a great job.”
With Williams a late withdrawal from the Silver Ferns line up after suffering
an injury in the lead up to Sunday, the Silver Ferns started with Katrina Grant
at goal keeper and Leana de Bruin at goal defender against Diamonds combo of
Catherine Cox and Natalie Medhurst.
The Silver Ferns were the quickest out of the blocks as they took a marginal
12-10 lead into quarter-time, a margin that withstood the second quarter
despite the Diamonds temporarily levelling the scores midway through the
While the even dependable Irene van Dyk was flawless alongside shooting partner
Maria Tutaia in attack, it was the defensive pressure by the New Zealanders that
startled the Australians in attack.
Ten deflection by half-time, including three each to Anna Harrison and de
Bruin, caused headaches for the Diamonds in their transfer from defence into
The visitors were quick to double their two-goal margin early in the third
quarter before the Australians, who brought Laura Geitz on for Julie Corletto
at the main break, worked their way back into the game to be within one goal.
New Zealand were quick to respond to take a five goal lead into three-quarter time
as van Dyk continued to torment the Diamonds with the 202-Test veteran missing
her one and only shot for the match in the third stanza.
Alexander looked to kick start her side with the inclusion of Erin Bell for
Natalie Medhurst at goal attach midway through the third quarter before world
championship hero and WAIS scholarship holder Caitlin Bassett was brought on
for Catherine Cox at three-quarter time.
The changes looked to have worked as the Diamonds reduced the six-goal deficit
in the fourth quarter to just two goals to the delight of the 9,600 in
attendance but the glimmer of another comeback was short lived as the Silver
Ferns hung on to win by two.
- Netball Australia