The Australian Diamonds have shown their team has depth ahead of next month’s World Netball Championships, despite going down to New Zealand 45-42 in the second Test in Auckland on Sunday night.
With eleven of 12 Diamonds players getting court time in the last match before the world championships, vice captain Catherine Cox said the trialing of new combinations showed promise.
“Going into that game, we were completely confident with that line up, we can put so many different players in different positions and we’re all very confident,” Cox said after the match.
“Having a new line up is a fantastic thing to have, especially leading into a World Championships.”
Norma Plummer rung the changes from Thursday’s opening Test with captain Natalie von Bertouch the only player to retain her position at centre while the experimental starting line up featured four new starters, including Test debutant Sharni Layton at wing defence.
The ANZ Championship’s leading scorer Caitlin Bassett started the match at goal shooter, Catherine Cox moved to goal attack, Laura Geitz to goal defence and Chelsea Pitman and Susan Fuhrmann were rewarded with starts after their impressive performances off the bench in the opening Test.
A New Zealand record netball crowd of 8300 were silenced early when the Diamonds took an early mini break before the hosts found a reply, leveling the scores with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
Caitlin Bassett was well held by Silver Ferns defenders Casey Williams and Katrina Grant forcing Catherine Cox to shoulder much of the Diamonds’ shooting burden early in the match.
New Zealand overcame a two goal deficit, leveling the scores 17-17, with a little over five minutes remaining in the second quarter before the hosts pulled away to a four goal lead on the stroke of half time.
Plummer continued to experiment with combinations in the second half, introducing Natalie Medhurst at goal attack, for Cox, at the main break before further changes at the end of the third quarter with Geitz replacing Fuhrmann at goal keeper, Julie Corletto on goal defence and Mo’onia Gerrard replacing Layton.
With six minutes remaining in the match the Diamonds nullified New Zealand’s four goal advantage, leveling the scores at 40-40, ensuring a thrilling finish.
An intercept and strong defence from Casey Williams and a miss from Cox, who had replaced Bassett late in the match, saw the Silver Ferns win by three goals to the delight of the huge crowd.
Despite the loss, Cox was delighted with the team’s performance, including her surprising combination with Bassett in the shooting circle.
“It was something the Silver Ferns have probably never seen before and Australia has never done before with a tall holding shooter like that which we knew was going to be a bit of a shock,” Cox said of playing Bassett at goal shooter.
“We’ve only had a week or so to work on the combination and it’s certainly growing, we just need a little more understanding with the passes but overall it feels really great.”
“It did what we wanted it to do in the first quarter.”
“We’re so fortunately with the ability and talent we’ve got in the team and there are still a lot of combinations we haven’t tried yet so it’s very exciting.”
Australian Shooting Stats:
Caitlin Bassett 28/33 (85%)
Catherine Cox 11/13 (84%)
Natalie Medhurst 3/6 (50%)
New Zealand Shooting Stats:
Irene Van Dyk 13/14 (93%)
Maria Tutaia 27/33 (81%)
Paula Griffin 5/9 (55%)
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