The defending champions are victors once more after the Australian Diamonds defeated the New Zealand Silver Ferns in an adrenaline-charged 58-55 show down in front a netball world record crowd of 16,849 at Allphones Arena.
The match started at a fanatic pace, Maria Tutaia putting the first point on the score board for the Silver Ferns in front of a deafening crowd. A couple of missed opportunities from Bailey Mes and Tuatia in New Zealand’s attacking circle saw the Diamonds take an early lead.
Australian skipper, Laura Geitz’s outstanding intercepts and deflections caught the Silver Ferns off guard, as Kimberly Green carried it through the midcourt to Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst to convert. A held ball from Tutaia in the New Zealand attacking circle cost them an opportunity to catch up to Australia, and the tournament hosts surged out in front to lead the first quarter 16-7, Bassett and Medhurst shooting at 100% accuracy.
“We really wanted to set it up in that first quarter and intensity was what we addressed. We really needed to hit them hard and really put that pressure on them from the start,” said Australian goal attack Natalie Medhurst.
With no substitutions at resumption for either team, Grace Rasmussen flew out of the blocks for the Silver Ferns, helping them to change to an attacking, rather than defending game. Another held ball in the New Zealand’s circle, attributed to intimidating pressure from veteran Julie Corletto and Geitz, slowed the new-found momentum. Renae Hallinan was a menace for the New Zealand attack with four deflections in the quarter and was instrumental in her teams forward momentum to catch up to New Zealand’s quarter goals.
Tutaia’s impressive long-bomb shooting and Basset’s accuracy provided end-to-end excitement, but it was New Zealand who came away with a 15-14 quarter win, narrowing Australia’s leading margin to eight goals and Australia led 30-22 at half time.
Leana de Bruin took over from Katrina Grant as Goal Defence to limit Medhurst from creating space for Basset in the circle in the second half. It was goal-for-goal, the Grand Final pressure was evident in both teams as they players looked unsettled.
Laura Langman and Kayla Cullen demonstrated their agility midcourt for the Silver Ferns with impressive intercepts and deflections, feeding into the shooters where Mes and Tutaia were meshing well. Although their accuracy was lacking, they converted 15 goals from 21 attempts, to Australia’s 13/13 shots. New Zealand took the quarter by two points, slimming Australia’s leading margin heading into the final term 43-37.
No substitutions were made for the final quarter, almost every player on the court battling through an exhilarating 60 minutes, all players a model of stamina and athleticism. Bassett and Medhurst continuing their attacking dominance on 100% accuracy, before de Bruin called injury time mid-quarter.
New Zealand refused to back down. Tutaia reacting well to the pressure, closing the points gap with a late flurry of goals. However it was Bassett’s final goal in the last minute of the game that sealed the 58-55 victory for the defending champions.
“It was hard work, just grinding away,” said Captain Laura Geitz after the match. “I think our attackers tonight were just sensational, they just capitalised on every little touch we got and that first quarter set us up nicely… To finish like that in front of our home crowd and to have family here, just to play with that particular group of girls, to play with Julie Corletto, for me it’s just wonderful to step into the defensive circle with such awesome athletes.”
The title is Australia’s 11th and their third consecutive, with the home crowd cheering them all the way.
For the full statistics please visit the NWC2015 Match Centre
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