Sport Netball Dominant Diamonds wrap up Constellation Cup

Dominant Diamonds wrap up Constellation Cup

Gretel Tippett of Australia maintains front position against New Zealand's Sam Sinclair in Wellington on Thursday. Photo: AAP
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Australia has reasserted its trans-Tasman netball dominance and locked away the Constellation Cup for a sixth straight year with a 58-47 dissection of the Silver Ferns on Thursday.

It was one-way traffic in the fourth and final Test of the series as the world champion Diamonds played with an intensity missing in last week’s shock 11-goal loss in Hamilton.

Coach Lisa Alexander ditched the rotation policy that backfired spectacularly on Sunday, instead fielding her strongest seven throughout in Wellington.

Their defensive intensity ensured New Zealand’s attack was stilted, but the biggest change came at the attacking end.

Rookie wing attack Kelsey Browne was electric and linked supremely with her shooting circle.

Captain Caitlin Bassett’s height was as influential as ever as she landed 37 from 43 shots. Gretel Tippett nailed 21 from 25.

Aerial maestro Tippett made the most of a surprise starting promotion ahead of Steph Wood.

Player of the match Kelsey Browne enjoys the win with captain Caitlin Bassett. Photo: AAP

New Zealand never looked like winning, let alone by the 14-goal margin it needed to snare the silverware, on goal differential, for the first time since 2012.

Shooter Maria Folau missed only one of her 41 shots in Hamilton, but was reduced to 27 from 34.

She was marked doggedly by Courtney Bruce and took nearly five minutes to lodge her first shot.

New Zealand trialled various defensive combinations to stem the flow of the Diamonds’ front three.

But the ability of player of the match Browne to find space and make the right feeding choices was critical, even after she was clattered to the ground by Sulu Fitzpatrick in the biggest collision of a physical contest.

Australia was up 18-13 after the first quarter and led 32-24 at the main break.

The Diamonds’ eighth Constellation Cup triumph in nine editions was assured when they led 46-33 entering the final stanza, which New Zealand narrowly won.

-AAP