Australia’s netball team have all but secured the Constellation Cup after a 60-52 win against New Zealand in Christchurch in the second Test.
Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby admits there are still shortfalls which need fixing, with the Diamonds needing just one more win in the next two matches in Adelaide and Sydney to wrap up the four-Test series.
After edging the Kiwis 57-54 in Auckland three days ago, Australia were ruthlessly efficient across all four quarters at Horncastle Arena on Sunday.
“We had a great start, but I thought we let it slip in the last couple of minutes of the first quarter, and ultimately we paid a bit more of a price tonight than we wanted to,” Southby said.
“I can’t fault the intensity and the work rate people have put out there.
“I think our connections are still not where they need to be, and at times we were just not using the court as well as we can, or have confidence in each other to let the ball go.”
New Zealand’s accuracy was solid enough, led by Maria Tutaia’s 26 goals from 29, but the volume of ball into their shooters lagged behind Australia, who never looked back after closing the first quarter with a five-goal run to lead 14-11.
Ahead 29-26 at half-time and 44-39 at the three-quarter mark, the Diamonds shut down any likelihood of a Silver Ferns comeback, even if they didn’t quite achieve coach Lisa Alexander’s targets.
“There’s been a lot of growth in the group, in digging in,” Alexander said.
“They really stuck to the game plan and implemented it, and lifted their intensity in defence, and that was very pleasing.”
Alexander wanted her team to dominate and to put the foot down when they had the chance, and she said there were glimpses of that ruthlessness.
“I think there were some opportunities, particularly in that first half when we went out to five at one stage and really should have pushed on.
“It’s those little silly errors that are costing us – we’re still not taking care of the details well enough.”
Shooter and skipper Caitlin Bassett, who dominated the front space and nailed 40 of her 44 attempts, said she’d been pleased with her team’s work in the attacking third, where Liz Watson and Kim Ravaillion were always half a pace ahead.
“I think the girls were a lot better with their placement of the ball tonight,” Bassett said.
“We were hitting the circle edge and Lizzie Watson in particular was so strong and has got such fast hands that it’s really hard to stop her.”