Australia have taken a firm grip on netball’s Constellation Cup and spoilt New Zealand star Laura Langman’s landmark night with a 56-47 win over the Silver Ferns in Townsville on Wednesday.
It was Australia’s ninth straight win over New Zealand and gave the Diamonds a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. Australian captain and shooter Caitlin Bassett nailed 34 straight goals and finished with 37 from 38 attempts.
Langman was making a record 146th appearance for the Silver Ferns, eclipsing the record previously held by legendary shooter Irene van Dyke. Australia never trailed during the game but needed a burst of eight straight goals in the final quarter to defeat a plucky Silver Ferns side who mounted a number of fightbacks after the Diamonds scored the first six goals.
It took the visitors almost four minutes to hit the scoreboard. Australia couldn’t build on that early impetus and the Silver Ferns drew level near the end of the quarter, before trailing by one at the first break.
A 6-1 run pushed Australia ahead by six, but the Ferns again rallied to get within three before finishing the half five down. Australia were up by seven in the third quarter but five unanswered goals got the Kiwis back to within one, though the Diamonds pushed it back to four at the final change.
Both coaches made changes to their starting seven from Sunday’s match which Australia won by 15 goals. Lisa Alexander rejigged the Diamonds’ midcourt, bringing in April Brandley at wing defence for Gabi Simpson, and Kelsey Brown at wing attack, with Liz Watson moving from that spot to centre in place of Kate Moloney.
New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua switched Maria Folau from goal attack to goal shooter and brought in Te Paea Selby-Rickit for Aliyah Dunn and Samantha Sinclair at wing defence for Michaela Sokolich-Beatson.
At half-time Alexander brought Simpson in for Brandley and Gretel Tippett came on for Stephanie Wood while Taurua maintained the same side throughout. Folau, who was watched at the venue by her husband and Wallabies star Israel Folau, shot 32 from 38.
The series moves to New Zealand with the teams playing in Hamilton next Sunday and Wellington the following Thursday.