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Australia beat New Zealand in final to win Netball World Cup once again
Erin Delahunty – The Guardian
New Zealand learned the hard way to never poke the Australian bear as a rampaging Diamonds team, wounded by a loss to their arch rivals earlier in the tournament, beat the Silver Ferns 58-55 in a characteristically heart-stopping Netball World Cup final in Sydney.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander had demanded more intensity and a greater defensive effort after the shock five-goal pool-stage loss and the Diamonds delivered in the gold medal match at Allphones Arena, in front of record crowd of 16,752.
Captain Laura Geitz proved why she is the best defender in the world by intercepting and deflecting, causing held balls and generally getting in the head of her opponent, World Cup debutant Bailey Mes. It is the third straight World Cup success for Australia, who have got their hands on the trophy 11 times now.
“It’s been years with this particular playing group … building towards this moment,” Geitz said. “To finish like that, in front of our home crowd, to have family here, and to play with that particular group of girls – to play with Julie Corletto – to me, it’s wonderful to be able to step into the defensive circle with such an awesome athlete.”
Gutsy goal defence Corletto, playing her last game for Australia, tempered the influence of the Silver Ferns’ queen of cool, goal attack Maria Tutaia, in one of the games’ key match-ups.
Tutaia, who came into the match with a shooting accuracy of 79%, well below most of the other big-name shooters, including all four Diamonds goalies, still fired, with 38 at 72% accuracy, but Corletto’s persistent pestering and Geitz’s dominance of Mes helped reduce her influence.
“We’re pleased we won the last three quarters, but we just did it the wrong way around,” said Tutaia. “We beat Australia on day three, we could have done it today, but you’ve got to give props to them, they did really well.
“We got a little bit complacent, their pressure on D [defence] was pretty tough to break. The very first time the team got named, we were pretty much written off, so for us to come here to compete and really play the full 60 minutes of hardcore netball is what we came to do.”
As tipped, Caitlin Bassett started in the circle and Nat Medhust at goal attack. Kimberlee Green, with her lower right leg again strapped, went to wing attack and Kim Ravaillion started at centre. Renae Hallinan was at wing defence.
It went goal-for-goal early on, until a Geitz tip two minutes in swung the momentum Australia’s way. Another intercept from Australia’s inspirational captain provided the next break and the goalers rewarded their skipper, putting on three unanswered goals to make the score 5-3.
More Geitz brilliance translated on the scoreboard, thanks to 100% shooting from both Bassett, with 13, and Medhurst, with three, and the quarter finished 16-7. “Our attackers tonight were sensational,” said Geitz. “They capitalised on every little tip and touch that we got. That first quarter set us up nicely.”
The Silver Ferns out-scored Australia by one in the second, with 15 goals, 11 courtesy of Tutaia, who came to life from her favoured long range. At the other end, Bassett continued on her consistent merry way, shooting 14 from 16, while Medhurst didn’t put a shot up.
“The supply to the circle was amazing,” Bassett said. “The girls were bringing the ball down really quick and Nat [Medhurst] was doing a great job of keeping the goal defence busy, which put me in a one-on-one situation, which is perfect.”
With Australia leading 30-22 at the half, Kiwi coach Waimarama Taumaunu brought Leana de Bruin to goal defence, but it didn’t slow Medhurst, who delivered another four goal assists and six feeds, as well as three goals for the third quarter. Meanwhile, Bassett went back to shooting 100%, knocking down 10 for 37/39 for the game.
The Kiwis outscored Australia again in the third, getting to within four, but the Diamonds settled and finished the quarter 43-37 up to set up an epic final stanza. Steady heads and a three-goal run nine minutes in put the score to 52-44 – and the result out of doubt.
Bassett scored 11 in the last quarter and 48 at 94% for the match. Medhurst added five in the last, to finish with 10, at 77% accuracy. Corletto and Geitz’s combined numbers though – two intercepts and 10 deflections and a swag of rebounds – told a story of complete defensive dominance.
Australia v New Zealand: Netball World Cup final – as it happened https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2015/aug/16/australia-v-new-zealand-netball-world-cup