AUCKLAND, New Zealand: Australia beat World Champions 48-42 in the second Constellation Cup Test in Auckland.
Australia celebrated Coach Lisa Alexander’s 100th match in charge with a victory over New Zealand in the netball’s second Constellation Cup Test.
Alexander prides in the Diamonds’ triumph, which followed rare consecutive losses to the Silver Ferns in Sunday’s series-opening test and July’s World Cup final in England, both by a single goal.
The Diamonds had led by as many as 10 goals during the encounter and were forced to hold off a fightback from the Silver Ferns to level the four-Test series 1-1.
Goal attack Gretel Tippett (23 goals from 24 attempts) was supreme under the ring and ably assisted by Captain Caitlin Bassett (17 from 20), but the Diamonds’ win was masterminded by the back.
Goal keeper Courtney Bruce subdued the Maria Folau-led Silver Ferns attack with an intensity that lifted the whole Diamonds side.
The Silver Ferns briefly led in the opening quarter, which proved to be the only time they were in front all night.
The Diamonds shot at 100% for the most of the first term and kept up their sharpness, while Bruce and Jo Weston showed extraordinary intensity inside the circle.
And the 2019 Constellation Cup is tied up.
Australia’s three-goal quarter-time lead was whittled to one when a contentious stepping call on Tippett went against the goal attack.
But the Diamonds responded, with Bruce leading the way.
Her three first-half intercepts each led to Diamonds goals, helping the visitors to a five-goal lead at the break.
Tippett was rested as one of three half-time changes, allowing Tegan Philip to return to international netball for the first time in three years.
Alexander’s switch-ups did not slow the Diamonds, who soon boasted the 10-goal lead that should have killed the contest.
Instead, Folau roared the Silver Ferns to life with a superb run.
The veteran attacker had a chance to narrow the lead to three on the eve of the last change, only to miss a long-range effort to end a damaging streak.
Bassett sat out the fourth quarter, with Philip deputizing superbly as the Diamonds shut out hopes of a Silver Ferns comeback.
The Silver Ferns won the opening Test 53-52 in Christchurch.
Australia will host the final two matches of the series in Sydney (October 20) and Perth (October 27).