FOCUSED: Australian goal attack Stephanie Wood in action in the Diamonds’ victory over England in their Quad Series Test match at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night. Picture: Marina NeilAustralia were out for revenge and that is what they exacted in a thrilling 52-47 Quad Series win over England in front of a packed Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night.
It was the first time international netball had been played in Newcastle since 2012 and the 4500-strong crowd were treated to a nail-biting game played at a frenetic pace.
When the countries last met, the Roses stunned the world to beat the Diamonds by one goal in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match on the Gold Coast in April.
Leading into the rematch, Australian vice-captain Gabi Simpson said the Diamonds had “a fire in the belly” and were focused on avenging the loss.
But it was England, who were missing key shooter Jo Harten through injury, asserting authority on the game early.The Roses shot out to a 4-1 lead after three minutes and were ahead 14-11 at the first break.Australian coach Lisa Alexander made a tactical change at quarter-time, bringing on Liz Watson at centre for Kim Ravaillion.
The change paid dividends for the Diamonds, who were able to find more space, particularly out wide.
Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett scored four unanswered goals midway through the second period to take Australia into a 19-17 lead.England staged a late surge, scoring three in row to lock the game at 24-24 with 90 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Australia won the ball after goal shooter Kaden Corbin, who came on for Natalie Haythornthwaite at the first change, missed a shot and Brown was able to score under pressure as the whistle blew to give the Diamonds a two-goal buffer at 26-24 at the main break.
The Diamonds made some crucial turnovers in the third quarter and shot out to a seven-goal lead six minutes into the third period.They maintained control and were ahead 41-34 at three-quarter time after edging their way ahead with several two-goal hauls in that period.But the game went down to the wire with England scoring seven consecutive goals in the middle section of the final quarter to bridge the gap to two goals, down 44-42 with seven minutes remaining.
But Bassett’s three-goal haul with four minutes to go gave the Aussies breathing space and they were not headed from there.The crowd erupted as the final whistle blew.
The match was played 11 days after a pre-season basketball clash between Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings and the Illawarra Hawks was embarrassingly abandoned at the 11th hour when it was ruled to be too slippery and dangerous for play, leaving thousands of spectators in attendance fuming.But there were no issues on Wednesday night.
Australia beat South Africa 61-44 in the opening match of the series in Auckland on Saturday while the Roses downed New Zealand 52-39.The Silver Ferns defeated South Africa 61-37 on Tuesday night.The Diamonds take on the Kiwis in Melbourne on Sunday after England play South Africa.
UP AND AWAY: Australian goal shooter and captain Caitlin Bassett battles for possession on Wednesday night in the Test match against England at Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Picture: Marina Neil