Australia’s netball trophy cabinet is bulging after adding the inaugural quad series title with a thrilling 60-55 Caitlin Basset-inspired win over New Zealand in the decider in Melbourne.
The world, Commonwealth Games and Constellation Cup champions added the four-country tournament crown to the list thanks to a record haul by Bassett.
The towering goal shooter scored 53 goals for the match – shooting all of Australia’s 30 goals in the second half – to eclipse her previous best Test mark of 49 goals.
While the five goal margin looked decisive, the Diamonds only skipped away with the result in the final two minutes.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander described the match as a great contest between the arch rivals and made special mention of Bassett’s contribution.
“I was a bit shocked when I saw the score and thought `Oh my goodness 53 goals’, that is just amazing,” Alexander said.
“Bass has played so well this series, she’s such a true professional.”
New Zealand took the lead with five minutes remaining only for the Australians to quickly respond through Bassett, with wing attack Madi Robinson also back to her best.
The teams were locked 30-30 at halftime and the Australians looked to take control after Alexander made two decisive changes with April Brandley coming in at goal defence and skipper Clare McMeniman shifting to wing defence, which for a time unsettled the Silver Ferns.
The Diamonds opened up a five-goal lead however they couldn’t shake the Kiwis, with shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Bailey Mes clawing back to trail by one at the final exchange.
With regular New Zealand goal attack Maria Tutaia sidelined by a foot injury, Queensland-born Ekenasio proved a headache for the Australians and finished with 23 from 34 attempts.
New Zealand coach Janine Southby, who took over the job this year, said she was disappointed to come away empty-handed after being in the match under the death.
“Up until the last two or three minutes it was a really tight game and we unfortunately let it slip,” Southby said.
“It’s always disappointing because you know you’ve worked really hard and I thought that we had it in us and it was just a couple of basic errors that let us down.”
The teams will next meet in the Constellation Cup, which is played over four games with the first in Sydney on October 9.
Earlier England outgunned South Africa 57-44 to claim third place in the series.