Via The West Australian
Australia overcame a third-quarter meltdown to clinch the 2017 Constellation Cup netball tournament with a 55-43 win over New Zealand on Wednesday night in Adelaide.
The result means Australia retain the trophy, which they have won seven times in the eight years it’s been contested.
The Diamonds took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the four-game series, but had a 14-goal second-quarter lead slashed to just three late in the third.
Six unanswered goals at the start of the last quarter allowed Australia to regain the ascendancy and they enjoyed a 17-9 advantage over the final period.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made two big changes for the last quarter, substituting two of her most-senior players.
Captain and goalshooter Caitlin Bassett was replaced by Caitlin Thwaites and centre Kate Moloney was given a debut in place of Kim Ravaillion.
Goalkeeper and West Coast Fever young gun Courtney Bruce won player of the match after again making life difficult for New Zealand’s shooters, while wing attack Liz Watson was another standout, providing her shooters with quality service.
The first quarter was an uncharacteristically scrappy affair, with both teams committing numerous turnovers.
Australia led 12-10 at the first break, but dominated the second, with Alexander bringing on Stephanie Wood at goal attack for Susan Pettitt.
The Diamonds delivered the ball into the circle with more accuracy and speed and Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby made changes to all three lines, as her side fell 29-15 behind.
The reshuffle brought instant dividends as New Zealand scored four-straight goals and pulled back to within 11 at the long break.
Samantha Sinclair provided drive from centre and Temalisi Fakahokotau supplied more urgency at goalkeeper.
Their resurgence and lift in intensity continued into the third quarter, which they won 15-8 to trail by just four going into the last term, but Australia lifted at the start of the fourth.
“I think we just let them back in and we know what a quality side they are,“ Watson told AAP.
“It was our silly errors - we got a bit quiet as well.
“We always talk about teamwork is going to win us games and we are a strong team.
“You could see that when we made those changes, it was quiet seamless and we got the score back up to where we wanted it to be.”
Silver Ferns captain and defender Katrina Grant was pleased her side generated more turnovers than in the two previous games, but stressed they needed to look after their own possession.
“I feel like that third quarter we had the game and we just went off in that fourth quarter and Aussie came out and pretty much nailed that fourth quarter,“ Grant told the Nine Network.
Bassett headed the Diamonds’ scoresheet with 29 goals from 31 attempts.
Bailey Mes and Maria Tutaia each contributed 16 goals for the Silver Ferns.
The series concludes on Saturday in Sydney.
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