Diamonds foil Ferns to sweep Quad Series
AUSTRALIA has sewn up netball's international quad series with a 60-55 win over archrivals New Zealand as the Diamonds flaunted their attacking twin towers and a flourishing defensive star at Melbourne Arena today.
After victories over South Africa and England in the opening two quad series Tests, the Diamonds needed to defeat the rebuilding Silver Ferns to complete a series clean sweep - but they were forced to hold off a late fightback from their old foes.
Australia had pushed out to a 10-goal lead early in the final quarter, but the Ferns were able to cut it back to five goals, which remained the final margin.
The victory extended the Diamonds' winning streak over the Silver Ferns, who are entering a new era under new coach Noeline Taurua, to seven consecutive matches.
The quad series win will give the Diamonds' impetus heading into next month's four Constellation Cup Tests against New Zealand as the team aims to get an edge over their rivals ahead of next year's netball World Cup in Liverpool.
After Stephanie Wood was ruled out of the match with a thigh injury, the Diamonds gave Gretel Tippett the starting nod at goal attack alongside goal shooter Caitlin Bassett, giving the team twin towers to aim at in attack.
Bassett dominated under the post to score 46 goals from 50 attempts, while Tippett impressed with her athleticism and unconventional netball moves to score 14 goals at 100 per cent.
Goal keeper Courtney Bruce continued to cement her place as Australia's new defensive rock in the goal circle, reeling in seven intercepts for the game to be rewarded with player of the match honours.
Bruce held Silver Ferns goal shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit to 15 goals from 20 attempts, with goal attack Maria Folau topscored for the Ferns with 30 goals from 34 attempts.
The Diamonds made just the one change to their line-up for the match, with Kelsey Browne coming on to replace Liz Watson at wing attack in the second half.
For the Silver Ferns, veteran and captain Laura Langman made the Diamonds' midcourt work hard as she fired off a 25 goal assists for the game.
The Diamonds and Silver Ferns will meet next in the opening Constellation Cup Test on October 7 in Brisbane.