World netball champions Australia will be on a mission in next month’s four-Test trans-Tasman series after copping a rare thumping from their arch-rivals.
Beaten four days earlier by England, New Zealand shocked the Diamonds with their intensity and dominated throughout to claim the Quad Series title on percentage with a 57-47 upset win in Invercargill on Sunday.
With the Commonwealth Games looming early next year, next month’s Constellation Cup clashes between the two teams in Auckland, Christchurch, Adelaide and Sydney take on added significance as a battle for psychological supremacy.
There had been fears New Zealand netball would suffer when the trans-Tasman club competition was scrapped in favour of separate national competitions this year.
But they were set aside as the Diamonds appeared non-plussed by the Silver Ferns’ zone defence and energy and a high penalty count also hurt the visitors as New Zealand led 18-10 at the first break.
New Zealand’s young, 192cm goal keeper Kelly Jury caused havoc in the Australian shooting circle, with the Diamonds having to rethink their feed into captain Caitlin Bassett.
“It’s who takes that ascendancy psychologically in that first quarter and we played into their hands, we talked about not doing that but unfortunately we did,” said Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander.
“We know about all our strategies against the zone, we simply just didn’t do it.”
— Samsung Diamonds (@AussieDiamonds) September 3, 2017
With New Zealand still ahead by 31-24 at half-time, Alexander rang the changes.
Tegan Philip was introduced at goal attack, Kim Ravaillion back into centre and Liz Watson moved out to wing attack while Caitlin Thwaites came on at goal shooter minutes during the third quarter.
But Bassett admitted her team simply did not handle the Silver Ferns’ pressure well enough.
“Tonight I think we lost our connection,” she said.
“We didn’t play as a team, we were doing too much individual work and not enough unit work. They split us apart.
They exposed that for us, put us into individual units, we didn’t step up and get back together again.”
The New Zealand defence generated a wealth of turnover ball and Te Paea Selby-Rickit (35 from 41), Bailey Mes (17 from 18) and Maia Wilson (five from five) were clinical in their conversion for New Zealand.
Bassett led the Australian scoring with 22 from 24 while Philip had 11 from 12, Thwaites 10 from 11 and Gretel Tippett 4 from 5.