by Aimee Dawson.
The Australian Diamonds have continued their fine form with a victory over the New Zealand Silver Ferns last night in Melbourne.
The win makes it 15 wins in a row for the Diamonds, the last three being against fierce rivals the Silver Ferns, who are without their star shooter, Maria Tutaia.
Australia lead the entire match from the opening minutes of the game with a lead that stretched out to 10 goals in the third quarter.
Multiple challenges were made by New Zealand, with the deficit cut to just two goals in the last quarter, however it was Australia that prevailed, 49 – 40, meaning they are only one win away from claiming the series.
Defensive duo Julie Corletto and Laura Geitz were menacing in defence, particularly in the first half, whilst Madison Robinson was able to find great feeds into the circle at wing attack.
Australian shooter, Caitlin Bassett, was named best-on-court for the game, claiming her first international MVP, shooting 33 goals from 40 attempts.
“[I’m] stoked to be the MVP, it doesn’t come very often so I’ll take it and run with it,” Bassett said.
Diamonds’ coach, Lisa Alexander said that Bassett’s last quarter performance in particular was crucial to the win.
“I thought that she played very smartly in the last quarter and really took control of that circle and got her timing right, so that helped us to get that win,” Alexander said.
However despite the win, Australia still have room for improvement, allowing New Zealand back into the match multiple times and wasting their lead.
“I thought they got some great turnover ball, we just wasted it,” Alexander said.
“We’ve got to address and we’ve got to look at that this week at training.”
Many positives can be taken from the loss for New Zealand.
“We definitely lifted I think from Invercargill,” New Zealand captain, Casey Kopua said.
“We’ve talked about actions and following our words and I think we did show that tonight and we can take confidence and belief from that because we can do it.”
One of these positives is the test debut of Australian-raised shooter Ameliaranne Wells for the Silver Ferns.
Wells, who got the call up into the team after the Commonwealth Games to replace the injured Maria Tutaia, got her opportunity to debut in the second quarter, and shot 14 from 20 for the match.
Her shooting partner, Catherine Latu, also impressed for the Silver Ferns, shooting at 100% for the match, 25 goals from 25 attempts.
New Zealand coach, Waimarama Taumaunu, said she was pleased with Latu’s performance.
“I was actually really proud of Catherine,” she said.
“She had to step up and take a leadership role tonight and she did it.”
The next game of the series is in Sydney on Saturday.