The series was tied at 2-2 after the decider, but the Diamonds won on superior goal percentage. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Australia has won the Constellation Cup for the seventh straight time, with a 53-46 win over the Silver Ferns squaring the series and allowing the Diamonds to retain the trophy.
- The series was tied at 2-2 and the Diamonds retained the title based on their superior goal percentage
- The Diamonds’ lead in the deciding fourth game ballooned out to 31-15 in the second quarter
- Caitlin Bassett knocked down 25 of her 28 attempts in her 100th Test
The seven-goal victory at Perth Arena levelled the series at 2-2 and kept alive the Diamonds’ winning streak in the series, which dates back to 2012, when New Zealand won the title for the first and only time.
The Ferns seemed to be in with a great chance to upset the apple cart this time around when, coming off a win in the World Cup final in July, they scored a one-goal win in the Constellation Cup opener in Christchurch earlier this month.
The Diamonds struck back with a 48-42 win in the second game in Auckland, before the series shifted to Sydney and New Zealand forced a decider with another one-goal win.
But the Diamonds held their nerve to retain the trophy, winning the last game in Perth by the biggest margin of the series on the back of dominant performances by the shooting duo of Caitlin Bassett (25/28) and Gretel Tippett (22/23).
The Diamonds blitzed the Silver Ferns with a 16-7 opening-quarter onslaught at Perth Arena on Sunday, and led by as many as 16 goals during the second term as their suffocating pressure proved too much to handle.
But with star shooter Maria Folau nailing almost everything that came her way, the Silver Ferns reduced the margin to seven goals in the third quarter, and then just four goals with seven minutes remaining.
The Diamonds kept their cool at the death to secure the win and claim the drawn series on superior goal percentage.
Star goal shooter Bassett celebrated her 100-game milestone with a win in front of 13,233 fans — a new netball record crowd for Perth.
The win was also the perfect send-off for retiring shooter Caitlin Thwaites, who replaced Bassett in the third quarter to finish with six goals on seven attempts.
For as good as the Aussies were, unforced errors and ill discipline cost the Silver Ferns the most.
The contest seemed over late in the second term as Australia’s lead ballooned to 31-15 but Folau, playing her 150th Test, kept her side in the match with a series of long bombs.
But with Courtney Bruce wearing her like a glove — and the supply scarce — Folau was starved of opportunities.
Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman had six turnovers in an error-riddled first half, with her team committing 25 in total compared to Australia’s 16.
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