The Australian Diamonds went undefeated in the 2023 Netball Quad Series, being crowned champions in the final against the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Cape Town International Convention Centre. The hallmark of their play was their pressure and physical play which saw them outplay the talented Silver Ferns side.
Coming into the final day of play, both teams came off wins on Day Three, with New Zealand having a hard-fought 10 goal win over the England Roses, whilst the Diamonds had a win against South Africa by 17 goals.
Whilst it was a battle early, the Silver Ferns applied the defensive pressure early, building mid-court pressure and not allowing any easy drives forward for the Diamonds, with Kate Heffernan, Karin Burger and Phoenix Karaka not allowing those options.
Steph Wood controlled the Diamond’s attack end, not rushing the ball and finding the open drives and space Cara Koenen provided.
Whilst Steph Wood shot at 100 per cent and Cara Koenen missed one goal in attack, Grace Nweke was unstoppable in the shooting circle, with the Australian defence end unable to stop the flow and feeds into Nweke, and Kate Heffernan winning ball in the defence end.
Whilst the Silver Ferns found their ball movement and connection in attack clicking well to start the game, the Silver Ferns maintained a four goal lead at quarter time.
Whilst the Silver Ferns lifted their defensive pressure, Steph Wood continued to work hard, cutting and driving inside the circle for the Diamonds, whilst Wood and Koenen both had good connection and movement, confusing the Silver Ferns defensive end.
The Diamonds lifted the defensive pressure, stopping the Silver Ferns drives and stopping that second phrase leads in the midcourt.
Both Karin Burger and Ash Brazill were a workforce in wing defence for both sides respectively, winning ball back and picking up one intercept apiece.
With the Diamonds winning the second quarter, 15-12 and lifting their defensive efforts, the Diamonds took a one goal lead at half-time.
In the Diamonds defensive line it was Brazill and Sarah Klau both combined for two gains and two intercepts, working hard to stop supply to the potent Silver Ferns attack. Overall though, New Zealand shooter Grace Nweke continued her shooting dominance in the shooting circle, shooting at 27 from 29.
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Australia dominated the third quarter, out-scoring the Silver Ferns 14-9, forcing the Silver Ferns into seven turnover for the quarter.
Diamonds defenders Courtney Bruce and Sarah Klau continued to lift their defensive pressure, whilst Liz Watson led from the front in wing attack, finding vision and strong feeds into the circle.
Paige Hadley and Ash Brazill restricted Gina Crampton and Kate Heffernan with their feeds into the shooting circle, applying that tight one on one pressure and not allowing those easy drives to circle edge.
The Diamonds controlled the tempo more on their terms, controlling the timing in attack and finding the drives down the court from defensive into attack.
The Silver Ferns struggled to find consistency in attack, being forced to crowd into smaller spaces and be forced to go backwards, whilst Australia continued to make their opportunities count, maintaining a four goal lead at three-quarter time.
Both teams had a competitive fourth quarter, with Ameliaranne Ekenasio stepping up in the early stages of the last quarter, nailing some crucial shots to reduce the margin.
Whilst the attack of Cara Koenen and Steph Wood nailed shots under pressure and maintained quick ball movement in the mid-court, the defensive end forced the Silver Ferns to crowd once more and force the Silver Ferns attack to find other options to get the ball in the circle.
Whilst the Silver Ferns reduced the margin, the Diamonds maintained that tight defensive pressure and maintained their composure to seal the victory, 56-50 to become the 2023 Quad Series champions.
With the Diamonds winning the Quad Series for the seventh time, the Diamonds now look ahead to the 2023 Netball World Cup in July.
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