The Diamonds have won their third straight Quad Series trophy, despite going down 52 to 49 in a tough final match of the series to England in London’s Copper Box Arena.
The equation was clear at the beginning of the game; the Diamonds would secure a third-straight Quad Series victory with a win over the Roses or the trophy would remain in England if the home team could pull off a five goal win.
The task was made all the more difficult when starting goal keeper Courtney Bruce was ruled out of the match with a concussion. She joined captain Caitlin Bassett and vice-captain Gabi Simpson on the sidelines who both suffered injuries earlier in the tour.
The game got off to a spectacular start as both teams made brilliant plays up either end of the court.
Emily Mannix couldn’t have asked for a better start filling in for the injured Courtney Bruce, nabbing two interceptions and shutting out multiple English advances as the Diamonds took a five goal lead into the first break.
But, thanks to a huge 13-goal quarter from substitute Rachel Dunn, England came storming back in the second forcing some uncharacteristic mistakes from the Australians and ending the first half with a 27 to 24 goal lead.
Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander made a slew of changes at half time, replacing shooter Caitlin Thwaites with Steph Wood, Kate Moloney for Kelsey Browne and Jo Weston for April Brandley.
The Roses continued to push the Diamonds, flying out to a six-goal lead early in the third quarter, but thanks to some strong shooting and athletic defending by substitutes Steph Wood and April Brandley, Australia were able to stay in touch, dragging it back to a four goal deficit at the end of the third.
It was a riveting final quarter of the match as both teams put the foot down and went hard until the final whistle. The Diamonds fought back and went ahead by two goals with five minutes remaining but the Roses were too strong, taking the game by 3 goals.
It was an intense way to finish what has been an incredible Quad Series and has set the stage for a huge Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July.
The Diamonds players will head back to Australia in the coming days, with all players set to continue preparations for the start of the Suncorp Super Netball season which kicks off in April.
The squad will regroup this March in Canberra where World Cup preparations will continue.
Article courtesy of Netball Australia.