Sport Netball Diamonds lift against Silver Ferns to level Constellation Cup netball series
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Diamonds lift against Silver Ferns to level Constellation Cup netball series

Liz Watson defends against NZ captain Laura Langman in the Constellation Cup series at Auckland on Wednesday. Photo: AAP
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Australia has atoned for its first-up loss to New Zealand in the Constellation Cup with a 48-42 victory in Auckland on Wednesday night.

Lisa Alexander’s team lifted for the master coach in her 100th Test, levelling the four-match series at 1-1.

Gretel Tippett (23/24) was supreme under the ring, ably assisted by captain Caitlin Bassett (17/20) and Tegan Philip (8/9).

But this was a win masterminded by the back.

Goal keeper Courtney Bruce subdued the Maria Folau-led Silver Ferns attack with an intensity that lifted the whole Diamonds side.

The four-Test series now heads to Sydney and Perth, where wins would allow Australia to retain the trans-Tasman trophy for the seventh straight time.

While the Diamonds boasted historical dominance over the Kiwis, New Zealand had won the previous two hitouts – including the World Cup final in Liverpool – by a single goal.

So when Bassett missed her first effort of the night to the delight of the sold-out crowd, the Kiwis were confident.

It was the only time they led all night.

Australia shot at 100 per cent for the rest of the quarter and kept up its sharpness.

Together with Jo Weston, Bruce showed superb intensity inside the circle.

Australia’s three-goal quarter-time lead was whittled to one when a contentious stepping call on Tippett went against the goal attack.

But the Diamonds responded, with Bruce leading the way.

Her three first-half intercepts each led to Australian goals, helping the visitors to a five-goal lead at the break.

Tippett was rested as one of three half-time changes, allowing Philip to return to international netball for the first time in three years.

Alexander’s switch-ups didn’t slow Australia, which soon boasted a 10-goal lead that should have killed the contest.

Instead, Folau roared the Silver Ferns to life with a superb run.

The veteran attacker had a chance to narrow the lead to three on the eve of the last change, only to miss a long-range effort to end a damaging streak.

Bassett sat out the fourth quarter, with Philip deputising superbly as the Diamonds shut out hopes of a Kiwi comeback.

-AAP

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