Diamonds Make Clean Sweep of International Calendar
Australia has made its 400th international Test match a memorable celebration with a 54-47 victory over England at Canberra’s AIS Arena in the perfect finish to the Diamonds 2014 international campaign.
In front of a full house of 3606 in the nation’s capital, the seven-goal result was the Diamonds’ 13th victory of the year – which has come against seven countries – and the most wins the nation has achieved in a calendar year since Australia won 14 Tests back in 1999.
It also extends the Diamonds current winning streak to 19 Tests overall since September last year.
Wing attack Madi Robinson capped off an outstanding campaign by winning her third Player of the Match award in the Diamonds’ past six Tests.
Diamonds’ wing attack Renae Hallinan said it was a special moment for the team to achieve a clean sweep of their 2014 campaign.
“That’s something special for us to reflect on now,” Hallinan said. “It’s nice to sit back and know that we were undefeated for the year and we can enjoy that.
“We’re just so excited to finish the series on a good win against a quality side. We knew they would come out all guns blazing and throw everything at us.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander stuck with the same starting combination from Bendigo and, while England made a better start than it did in the opening Test, the combination of Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurstwere on target early to Australia got away to an early advantage.
The 16-9 quarter-time lead was the sixth consecutive opening term that the Diamonds had won.
England coach Anna Mayes altered her line-up to start the second term with captain Jade Clarke taking the centre bib and Kadeen Corbin coming into wing attack.
The Diamonds got away to a 10-goal lead mid-way through the quarter before England brought the deficit back to seven goals. But the Diamonds went into main break leading 31-23 – despite the English pair of Jo Harten and Rachel Dunn missing just one shot on goal for the half.
It was a magical moment for Queensland’s Clare McMeniman to start the third term as she was handed her international debut, taking over the goal defence bib from Julie Corletto and becoming the 163rd player to represent Australia.
England made the better start to the second half, getting the deficit back to three goals as the Diamonds were forced to make a change to their shooting circle with Caitlin Thwaites coming on for Bassett.
While it sparked an Australian revival, England refused to go away and scored the last three goals of the term to see the Diamonds go into three-quarter time leading 41-36.
Acting captain Kimberlee Green came into the action at centre for the Diamonds’ final quarter of netball for the year but England continued to press and challenge the Commonwealth Games champions.
The Diamonds were able to give themselves some much-needed breathing space when Medhurst capitalised on two crucial England misses at the opposite end and Australia was able to maintain its advantage right through to the final whistle.