The SportingJournal

Constellation Cup Claimed by Silver Ferns

Source: Tom Griffiths, The SportingJournal

The New Zealand Silver Ferns have held off a strong comeback by the Australian Diamonds to claim the second victory of the series, and take the Constellation Cup from the Diamonds.

The Silver Ferns, who were ahead by as much as 13 goals at one stage in the match, remained strong in the last few minutes of the game to take the one goal victory.

The Silver Ferns started with, and remained with the same team as last Sunday’s game, with Casey Williams still yet to make her appearance in the series so far. The Diamonds made two changes to their start, with Erin Bell taking the start over from Natalie Medhurst, and Laura Geitz getting the start at Goal Keeper over Bianca Chatfield.

The first quarter of the match was clearly dominated by New Zealand, leading at the end of the quarter 15 – 6. Katrina Grant, Leana de Bruin and Anna Harrison for the Silver Ferns were dominant in defence, creating a wealth of opportunities for their shooters, Maria Tutaia and Irene van Dyk, who did not miss a beat, shooting at 100% for the quarter.

One change was made by the Diamonds, with Natalie Medhurst taking position in Goal Attack in place of Erin Bell, who did not put up a shot in the first quarter.

By half time, the margins had extended to 12 points, 31 – 19.

A wealth of changes to the team appeared in the Australian line-up returning from half time. Catherine Cox, who was playing in her 100th test match, despite playing a great game and shooting 15 goals, was replaced by tall shooter, Caitlin Bassett. Melbourne Vixen’s gun mid-courter, Madison Browne, made her first appearance for the Diamonds this year in Wing Attack, moving Kimberlee Green into Centre and captain, Natalie von Bertouch, onto the bench. Renae Hallinan, who made the team as a replacement for Ashleigh Brazill who is out with a knee injury, also made her first appearance this year in Wing Defence, replacing Mo’onia Gerrard.

These changes proved crucial to the Diamonds, rattling the home team and causing many basic misjudgements as Australia quickly regained ground – limiting the 12 goal score line to just 7 within minutes.

Hallinan proved a torment in defence, providing extra strength to the Diamond’s already formidable duo in defence, Julie Corletto and Laura Geitz, whilst Madison Browne and Caitlin Bassett provided some extra spark in attack.

By the end of the quarter, Australia was just 5 points down.

The last quarter would prove to be the thrilling, high stakes rivalry between these two teams which has been present for many years. Australia scored 5 goals in a row to reduce the score to 2 points, where it would remain for most of the quarter.

The pressure was immense as both teams fought desperately for the win – the Silver Ferns to claim the second game to call the Constellation Cup their own, and the Diamonds, who desperately needed to win to keep their hopes of remaining holders of the cup alive.

With just minutes left on the court, star of the game Anna Harrison for New Zealand, was called for stepping, giving Australia the break they needed. They drew to one point behind with a minute left on the clock and with their centre pass to come.

However a miss by the Australian shooters, saw the ball get in the hands of the Silver Ferns as the final whistle blew. Natalie Medhurst was a stand out for Australia, scoring 17/17 goals for the game, whilst Leana de Bruin and Katrina Grant combined well to get 3 intercepts and 9 deflections between them.

The Silver Ferns were able to hold off a fast finishing Diamonds, to win 50 – 49 and claim the Constellation Cup.

Although the Constellation Cup has been claimed by the New Zealand Silver Ferns, the final match of the three game series will be played on Sunday in New Zealand.

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