Australia Beats New Zealand by Three Goals in Sydney to Reclaim Netball World Cup Title
Australia coach Lisa Alexander has lauded the way her players handled the pressure of a home World Cup after the Diamonds’ thrilling title win on Sunday.
The Diamonds held off arch rivals New Zealand to claim their third consecutive Netball World Cup crown with a 58-55 win in front of a packed Allphones Arena in Sydney.
After a shock loss to the Silver Ferns on day three of the tournament, the Diamonds exacted revenge when it mattered to claim Australia’s 11th world title.
The result gave the Diamonds Commonwealth Games and World Cup victories in consecutive years for the first time in 16 years.
Australia made a statement in a blistering 16-7 opening quarter, but had to fend off a late fightback from the Silver Ferns, who got as close as three goals late in the final quarter.
The Diamonds last year scored a dominant 18-goal win over the Ferns to claim their first Commonwealth Games gold in 12 years. Alexander said this win was a greater achievement.
“There is nothing harder in sport than being able to repeat success. Not only that, at a World Cup that was enormously difficult at home, it actually is harder,’’ she said.
“This World Cup has shown how competitive, particularly the top four are.
“I have never wanted to say that before this time, but if I’m completely honest with you, it was much more difficult than Comm Games.”
The Diamonds’ victory, which follows World Cup title wins in 2007 and 2011, delivered Victorian goal defence Julie Corletto the perfect send-off in the final game.
Australia was again spearheaded by goal shooter Caitlin Bassett, who finished with 48 goals from 51 attempts.
Australian captain Laura Geitz said it meant “everything” to lead the Diamonds to a home World Cup title.
“It’s just bloody sensational,” Geitz said in the joyous aftermath of the win.
Geitz, 27, said she would take time to enjoy the win before making a decision on her playing future.
“I am just going to enjoy this moment and people say that you know when it’s right … we’ll go out and enjoy tonight and whatever will be, will be,” she said.
The only change to the Diamonds’ starting line-up that lost to New Zealand seven days earlier was Corletto starting at goal defence instead of Sharni Layton.
By the halfway mark of the first quarter, the Diamonds had opened up a 9-4 lead, prompting an early time-out from the Silver Ferns to regroup, but the tactic didn’t work.
Maria Tutaia (38/53) starred in New Zealand’s earlier win against Australia, but Corletto wore her like a glove early as the Ferns’ ace shot at a shaky 4/8 in the first quarter.
Powerful midcourter Kim Green gave Australia plenty of drive as the Diamonds extended their lead to 12 goals in the second quarter before the Ferns closed the margin to eight goals at halftime.
As they have done throughout the tournament, the Silver Ferns made a change in defence for the start of the second half, bringing on veteran Leana de Bruin at goal defence in place of Katrina Grant.
New Zealand kept coming with midcourt general Laura Langman starting to dominate in the centre and Tutaia lifting her influence.
But the Diamonds were resolute, with a big final quarter from Medhurst.