Gretel Bueta will return to the Diamonds for the Netball Quad Series. (Photo: Australian Diamonds)

Ahead of the Diamonds and Silver Ferns' renewal of their bitter rivalry in the upcoming Quad Series, we take a look back at the last time they met.

The Diamonds and the Silver Ferns have forged one of the biggest rivalries, not only in the sport of netball, but one of the of greatest of all time.

They’ll be joined by the England Roses and South African Spar Proteas to compete in a Quad Series in what will be closest series in recent memory.

Contests between Australia and New Zealand are always fierce and have a knack of going down to the wire each time they play, leaving the fans always on the edge of their seats.

The most recent fixture between the two teams was in last year’s Constellation Cup, which saw all four fixtures played at Christchurch Arena.

The Inner Sanctum takes a look back ahead of the Series’ start.

Game 1 

It was surprise for all Australian fans that the Silver Ferns meant serious business when they arrived for game one and exploded out of the blocks each quarter. They extended the lead at every opportunity, with the Aussies making a late charge but falling short. 

Mid-courter Gina Crampton was certainly the highlight in this game, providing 19 goal assists and 35 feeds to her shooters Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

The Australian mid-court had no answers for the pocket rocket in this one. 

The defence of Sarah Klau and Courtney Bruce put up some resistance with the pair combining for four intercepts, but New Zealand showed poise and class and got the job done.

Game 2

After being 1-0 down the Diamonds had to respond. Coach Stacey Marinkovich played a huge card by benching captain Caitlin Bassett for young upcoming superstar, and someone Bassett mentored, Cara Koenen. The young star didn’t disappoint in her first start finishing with 29 goals from 34 attempts. 

Along with Koenen, stand-in captain Liz Watson took her game to the next level. She led from the front, playing most of the game at wing attack.

With a mammoth 21 assists and 35 feeds, Watson led her team to a 14 goal lead at the half, which finished in a nine goal victory to the Aussies in game two.

Game 3

The next match-up was now vital to both teams and who would gain the edge going into the final game. The biggest player and the one who stood up in this game was New Zealand shooter Maia Wilson. 

In what was Wilson’s best game of the series, she put up 41 goals from 43 attempts, which saw the Diamonds five goal lead at half time turn into a six goal loss by the final whistle. Wilson was unstoppable, her footwork was impeccable, and leads were perfectly timed.

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The final quarter score of 17-9 in favour of the Ferns could be simply put down to great team netball, plus the addition of wonderful movements in the goal circle to get Wilson open. 

Game 4 

In what was the tightest game of the entire series, it was hard to pick a moment from this enthralling match-up. There were a few players that stood out from both teams in this match.

It was another young goaler for Australia and someone who’d been impressing right throughout the series in Kiera Austin who had her best game as a Diamond, leading her team to a 12-6 lead after one quarter. 

It was a very mature performance from such a young player in a crucial, must win game for her country.

After missing game two, Ameliaranne Ekenasio showed a new side of herself, becoming a passing first goal attack in the last two games of the series. 

Master coach Noeline Taurua provided the stroke of genius to play through her star goal attack, and knew of her passing ability. 

It may look from a shooting standpoint that Ekenasio had a quiet game, but it was her play that was able to set up the Silver Ferns to a win in game four and a 3-1 series win in the Constellation Cup.

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Quad Series squads

Taking a look ahead to the Quad Series, the Diamonds and the Silver Ferns will have some familiar faces but also some new ones when the series begins this weekend. 

The shooting circle will change drastically, with the omission of Caitlin Bassett and Kiera Austin, who isn’t playing due to her most recent injury (ACL tear) from the beginning of the Suncorp Super Netball season. 

The Diamonds will see the return of their vice-captain Steph Wood and Firebird Gretel Bueta. Those two, along with Cara Koenen, will seem likely to get most of the playing time. Sophie Garbin and Sophie Dwyer make up the rest of the shooters and will gain a lot of experience along the way. 

Not much changes for both the mid-courters and defenders. The only addition is Magpies wing defence Ash Brazill, who after an impressive season has gained selection alongside fellow mid-courters Paige Hadley, Kate Moloney, Jamie-Lee Price and Liz Watson. 

The defenders are similar with seasoned veterans Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce featuring, plus the return of the NSW Swifts defence in Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner. 

But the biggest surprise came with the selection of West Coast Fever swing defender Sunday Aryang, the youngster who provided great energy and spark for the Fever last season. She could be very effective in a similar role this series from either wing defence or goal defence.

The team from New Zealand will be sporting a few friendly faces in the upcoming series, but some we may not have seen before. 

Led by Gina Crampton, the Silvers Ferns have a very familiar mid-court to the avid netball watcher. Samantha Winders (nee Sinclair), Shannon Saunders (nee Francois) lead a very experienced mid-court.

The defence takes a hit with Jane Watson not playing in the series, but New Zealand has a very seasoned defence unit that can cover her while she’s not playing. 

Veteran Sulu Fitzpatrick will again join the team alongside Karin Burger, who has impressed in her 29 Test caps so far. 

Kelly Jury and Phoenix Karaka would be a formidable duo, but we may see them come off the bench in the upcoming series. Even without Watson this defence unit is not going to be easy to get past.

The attacking end is on the younger side. Alongside Maia Wilson are two inexperienced shooters in Tiana Metuarau and Grace Nweke who have combined for just three Test caps so far.

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