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Diamonds claim quad series despite defeat
The Australian Diamonds did enough to claim the Quad-Series title despite a 43-48 loss to the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the final game in Hamilton on Thursday.
The Diamonds first loss of the competition saw Australia and New Zealand finish the four-nation tournament level on ten points apiece. A superior goal percentage saw the visitors come away with the silverware.
The 111th installment of the trans-Tasman international fixture didn’t disappoint early with a high intensity, physical battle reminiscent of the numerous World Netball Championships and Commonwealth Games Grand Finals in past years.
Goals came in pairs early in the first quarter as neither side could gain the ascendency until the hard one on one defence across the court started to pay dividends late in the quarter. The Diamonds scored the last three goals to take a 13-9 lead into quarter-time.
Australian defender’s Bianca Chatfield and Rebecca Bulley were outstanding in their coverage under the post to limit the impact of Silver Ferns shooters Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia.
A quick start from the Diamonds in the opening minutes of the second quarter was short lived as the hosts overturned a seven-goal deficit courtesy of dominating defence from Casey Williams and Leana de Bruin, who was celebrating her 100th international Test.
The Silver Ferns disrupted the Diamonds quick ball movement through the middle to outscore the Australia 16-10 in the second quarter as New Zealand took at 25-23 lead into half-time.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander introduced Caitlin Bassett at goal shooter for Catherine Cox while Mo’onia Gerrard replaced Renae Hallinan at wing defence, in a bid to regain control of the transverse line, though it was short lived with Hallinan reintroduced ten minutes later.
The third quarter brought little change for the Diamonds as the Silver Ferns extended their advantage to five goals mid way through, courtesy of four consecutive goals before Alexander again turned to the bench to bring on Erin Bell at goal attack.
Three goals from the quick scoring Bassett saw the Diamonds cut the margin to four goals early in the fourth quarter however any comeback by the fast finishing Australians was snuffed out to the delight of the parochial capacity crowd.
De Bruin was named MVP.