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Diamonds cement top spot with clean sweep

Gabi Simpson regains possession for the Diamonds in their battle against the Silver Ferns. Source: AAP
Gabi Simpson regains possession for the Diamonds in their battle against the Silver Ferns. Source: AAP

AUSTRALIA have ended the international netball year as the world No.1 after completing a Constellation Cup clean sweep with a resounding 58-42 win over New Zealand in Sydney.

Just as importantly, the Diamonds know they have the ascendancy over their most dangerous rivals ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Stinging from a 10-goal loss to New Zealand in the Quad Series just over a month ago, the Australians got their revenge in this four-Test series, pulling off just their second ever clean sweep in the annual series since its inception in 2010.

"We put everything out there in those last four games and I think you saw that," Australian captain Caitlin Bassett said.

 

Kim Ravaillion and Shannon Francois duke it out. Source: Getty Images
Kim Ravaillion and Shannon Francois duke it out. Source: Getty Images

Australian coach Lisa Alexander admitted the strong performance of her players across the series had added to her selection headache.

"It definitely has," she said. "But you don't mind that. It means what you are doing is working."

She said she was delighted with the way her charges had regrouped after their September loss to the Ferns by sweeping this series.

"But you don't want to get carried away with your wind or you losses," she said. "You don't want to get overly excited."

In front of 10,861 fans at Qudos bank Arena yesterday, the Diamonds delivered an entertaining if at times flawed performance in their last Test in Australia before the Commonwealth Games next April.

The Silver Ferns produced the best start of the series from either side with a five-goal run leaving the Diamonds flustered early.

 

Caitlyn Thwaites gets an open look at goal. Source: Getty Images
Caitlyn Thwaites gets an open look at goal. Source: Getty Images

It took more than six minutes for the Diamonds to level the scores, and eight minutes to take the lead before they fell behind again to trail 12-13 at the first break.

Australia regrouped for a 26-22 lead in a scrappy second period.

Both coaches made shooting changes to good effect with Maria Tutaia on for Bailey Mes and Caitlin Thwaites replacing Aussie captain Bassett in the circle alongside Steph Wood.

A physical third quarter was owned by Australia as the hosts opened up a 10-goal lead before taking a 40-31 jump into the final break.

Alexander swapped her entire bench in during the final period as her side ran out resounding 16-point winners.

Thwaites topscored for Australia with 30 from 32. Wood netted 15 from 20, Susan Pettitt four from six and Bassett nine from 12 during her first half appearance.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit was best for the Silver Ferns with 24 from 28.

The player of the match was Australian midcourter Liz Watson.

"We are all about team and when the team plays well it makes things easy for me," Watson said.

Topics:  caitlin bassett diamonds lisa alexander silver ferns

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