Commonwealth Games: Silver for the Ferns

By David Leggat

Australia won the gold medal with a 58-40 win over the Silver Ferns at the Hydro Arena. Photo / Greg Bowker
Australia won the gold medal with a 58-40 win over the Silver Ferns at the Hydro Arena. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand's hold on the Commonwealth Games netball crown is over.

Australia won the gold medal with a 58-40 win over the Silver Ferns at the Hydro Arena early today, their first victory in the event since Manchester 12 years ago.

New Zealand had prevailed at Melbourne in 2006 and New Delhi four years ago, but there could be no argument Australia deserved this victory. Well before the end they were making no race of it.

This time it was Australian players hugging, whooping and collapsing on the floor in a heap, just as it had been the Silver Ferns in New Delhi.

Austalia worked their way in front, the lead ballooned in the third quarter, leaving the Silver Ferns having to catch up. They began cutting corners, rushing their play as a sense of desperation crept in.

The Australians won the third quarter, 15-9, which effectively decided the final.

New Zealand put goal shoot Cathrine Latu on for the fourth quarter in a last-gasp bid.

Latu has been out with a calf injury since the third group game and briefly showed what the Silver Ferns had been missing.

But it was too late to do much about the outcome by then, as Australia, 11 up at the start of the last quarter pressed on relentlessly to end ambitions of a Silver Ferns hat trick.
At quarter time it was 14-14 and as tight as that suggests.

Australia had the beanpole shooter Caitlin Bassett as an obvious target and attacking hustlers in Natalie Medhurst, Madi Robinson and Kim Ravaillon as support acts.

New Zealand opted for Maria Tutaia at goal shoot and Jodi Brown at goal attack. It was a bold call, considering the last time Tutaia started an international at goal shoot was in 2008. Space was at a premium.

Goal keep Leana de Bruin had her hands full with Bassett while captain Casey Kopua was working overtime to break down the service into the key shooter.

Just as the semifinal win over England was desperately tight, so too was the final, at least till halftime to absolutely no surprise.

Late in the second quarter, Australia got a small run and by halftime were 28-24 ahead before the key third quarter decided it.

New Zealand's attackers were pressured into errors by the rugged defence of Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto. Three successive shots were missed and that was the opening Australia needed as they bolted to a 10-goal advantage, which they extended in the final period.

Earlier, England's miserable Games campaign ended in disappointment. Having lost to Australia and New Zealand by a solitary goal, they were beaten in the bronze medal match by Jamaica, 52-48.

- NZ Herald

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