Australian Diamonds win Constellation Cup title
THE Australian Diamonds, captained by Laura Geitz, have reclaimed the Constellation Cup following a 52-47 victory over the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, on Monday.
The Diamonds take an unassailable 3-1 lead into the final Test against the Silver Ferns in Canberra on Sunday - the last outing between the two sides before next year's Commonwealth Games.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander kept a winning formula, sticking with the same starting seven that put the Australians ahead in series with victories in Auckland and Adelaide after dropping the first game in Invercargill.
The Diamonds led at every break en route to securing a third consecutive victory over the Silver Ferns for the first time since 2009 and the Constellation Cup title with one match to spare.
An error riddled first quarter saw both sides handover possession as neither team could settle in the first ever international outing at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, better known as host of the Australian Open.
The Australians showed good poise and control to take an early lead as the flow of scoring shifted before the hosts took a 12-10 advantage into quarter-time break.
The Diamonds stepped up the defensive pressure in the second quarter with the combination of captain Laura Geitz and vice-captain Bianca Chatfield continuing to stifle the Silver Ferns attack.
The New Zealand goalers were deprived of opportunities with goal shooter Catherine Latu held to just five shots for the quarter, converting three, while Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst added to the Australians' advantage.
Leading 26-21 at half-time, the Diamonds were relentless in the third term with fast, precise and direct transitions while Geitz continued to trouble Latu with a blocked shot and held ball call.
The Australian midcourt dictated the pace of the game in attack, highlighted by Kimberley Ravaillion's long range feeds into Bassett, while providing additional support for the two circle defenders.
The Diamonds opened up an 11-goal lead early into the fourth quarter before New Zealand made a late surge, cutting the margin to just three goals with five minutes remaining in the match.
An intercept from Renae Hallinan and a rebound from Geitz in the last three minutes extinguished any hopes of a comeback for the Silver Ferns as the Diamonds held on for a five-goal victory.
Australian goal attack Natalie Medhurst was named player of the match.