New Zealand end netball Diamonds' winning run
THE sweet shooting of Maria Folau, gritty defence and the magic touch of new coach Noeline Taurua has seen the Silver Ferns thwart the Diamonds' bid to equal and then surpass their record 10 game winning run with New Zealand scoring their first victory over the world No. 1 side in a year in the crucial third test of the Constellation Cup.
In a classic arm wrestle between two of netball's oldest rivals, Sydney netballer Jamie-Lee Price made her debut in a match the Diamonds might want to forget.
The Australia side was beaten in every quarter of a match against New Zealand for the first time in eight years and trailed by as many as 13 goals before falling to the Silver Ferns 55-44 in Wellington.
The upset, less than two months after two-time Super Netball winning coach Taurua stepped into the head role, has also forced the Constellation Cup to the final match of the series in Hamilton on Thursday.
Folau was outstanding for the Silver Ferns with 40 goals from 41 as was the New Zealand defence
Despite her short time with the team which failed to medal at the Commonwealth Games for the first time earlier this year, Taurua has helped transform the Silver Ferns from a side low on morale to one full of passion and pride.
The win came just over a year after the Ferns downed the Diamonds 57-47 in a Quad Series game in September 2017 and after nine straight losses to their old foes..
"I'm just really disappointed. We never got out of first gear,'' Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said after the match.
"We just have to recognise this, that we didn't bring our best today, and take it on the chin.''
Captain Caitlin Bassett ended the game with 20 goals from 23 with Gretel Tippett scoring 16 from 17, Steph Wood 3 from 6 and Caitlin Thwaites 5 from 7.
The Australians made an erratic start to the third Test of the series, leading by as much as five in the first quarter but leaving the court at the break trailing 14-13.
In the second quarter the Silver Ferns opened up a five-goal lead which Australia reduced to 30-26 at halftime.
Shooter Folau, who has signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds for next season's Super Netball competition, was stellar with 23 goals from 24 attempts in the first half.
Powerful defence and inspired attack saw the Ferns open up a seven-goal lead in the third quarter before leaving the court at the break up 41-36.
The Ferns kept up the intensity to dominate their fourth quarter for their moral-boosting win.
The Diamonds beat the Silver Ferns 56-47 in the second Test which followed on from their 57-42 victory in the Constellation Cup series opener.
The Constellation Cup will now be decided in the final match on Thursday.
Since the inception of the trans-Tasman series in 2010, Australia has lost it just once, in 2012.