The SportingJournal

Silver Out-Shines Diamonds

Source: Tom Griffiths, The SportingJournal

The New Zealand Silver Ferns were two goal victors over the Australian Diamonds in the first game of the 3 game Constellation Cup series today. The game was played under immense pressure by the top two netball teams in the world, thrilling spectators from the first pass.

The Diamonds opted for a Victorian defence line, with former Melbourne Vixen, Julie Corletto, and current Vixens captain, Bianca Chatfield, starting in Goal Defence and Goal Keeper.

The first quarter was goal for goal, with the biggest lead being 3 goals to Australia mid-way during the quarter. The defensive pressure was incredible, with both teams boasting the best defence lines in the world. New Zealand rallied in a series of intercepts to draw level with 2 minutes left, and by  quarter-time, the score was 12 – 10 with New Zealand holding the lead.

No changes to the teams were made during the first break, with both sides choosing to stick with the teams that were providing a high-pressure contest.

Both teams were even in this quarter, scoring 14 goals each, with the difference remaining 2 points at half time.

The third quarter saw Silver Ferns dominate, getting a 5 goal lead at the end of the quarter. The Silver Ferns defence in Anna Harrison, Leana de Bruin and Katrina Grant successfully shut down the options for the Diamonds in attack, creating turnovers and basic errors in the Diamonds front line.

A series of changes for Australia during the end of third quarter and three-quarter-time saw them attempt one last comeback with Caitlin Bassett moving into Goal Shooter to replace Catherine Cox, who was having a stellar game. An injury time in the third quarter saw Erin Bell replace Queensland Firebird goal attacker, Natalie Medhurst, and in the fourth quarter, an injury time to Bianca Chatfield saw her leave the court and Laura Geitz move into Goal Keeper.

These changes proved valuable for the Diamonds, managing to edge back to a two goal margin. But they’re comeback was beaten by the siren, going down by two goals, 54 – 52.

Australian Diamonds coach, Lisa Alexander, said after the match the reasons for the amount of position changes during the match.

“We’re also looking at exposure as well and exposure of different combinations. There’s no point just putting a seven out if it’s not giving you what you need.”

Diamonds captain, Natalie von Bertouch said that the team’s downfall was their defensive pressure.

“I just don’t think our defensive pressure was good enough, all over the court. “

Natalie also commented on the fact that Australia have to win the last two games on New Zealand soil to claim the series.

“It’s still the same court. It’s still the same dimensions. “

“Definitely it’s a challenge, but we love those challenges. That’s why we play netball, to challenge ourselves and see ways that we can improve.”

The Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns will now travel to New Zealand to play the last two games of the Constellation Cup.

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