New Zealand's stranglehold on the Fast5 World Series crown has continued, with Maria Tutaia shooting the Kiwi side to their fourth straight title in Melbourne tonight.
The Fast5 Ferns demolished Australia 41-16 in the grand final, out-witting, out-hustling and most importantly, out-shooting the hosts, who were kept scoreless in their powerplay quarter.
The win extended New Zealand's dominance in the shortened version of the game, as they clinched their sixth title in seven years.
The Australians, who were hosting the tournament for the first time, looked the goods to break their title drought in Fast5 format having come through the round robin unbeaten. Their impressive run through the first round included a 32-29 win over the Ferns on day one.
But with nine of their 10-strong squad playing Fast5 for the first time, the New Zealand side built their way into the tournament, finding their best in the grand final.
The Kiwi side pulled off a tactical masterstroke by opting to play their double-points powerplay quarter in the second spell in the hopes of putting Australia into chase mode early on.
Despite shooting out to a 23-11 halftime lead, the Fast5 Ferns would have been disappointed with their return from their powerplay. They started strongly, with Tutaia netting two super shots in the opening minute, but they fizzled out over the latter stages of the period as Australia starved them on the possession they needed.
Led by the hot hand of Tutaia, New Zealand continued to extend their advantage in the third period, taking a 33-16 lead at the final turn.
The title was by no means in the bag however. With Australia opting to play their powerplay quarter in the final spell, the hosts were only a couple of super shots away from being right in contention.
A stunning defensive effort from rookies Kelly Jury, Storm Purvis and Jane Watson ensured the Australians never got a look in. They kept the Australian shooting end, which included experienced international stars Caitlin Thwaites, Susan Pettitt and Erin Bell scoreless.
The grand final blow out followed two thrilling play-off matches for minor places.
Crowd favourites Malawi pulled off their best finish in seven years of the short-form tournament, edging past England 35-32 in the play-off for bronze. In the earlier match-up, Jamaica narrowly avoided coming away with the wooden spoon after edging South Africa by one point in double extra time in the 5th/6th play-off.
Fast5 World Series
Australia 24 Malawi 23
Jamaica 35 South Africa 32
New Zealand 36 England 35
Australia 35 Jamaica 19
England 43 Malawi 22
New Zealand 49 South Africa
Malawi 46 Jamaica 12
England 29 South Africa 29
Australia 32 New Zealand 29
Malawi 36 South Africa 21
Australia 26 England 20
New Zealand 26 Jamaica 16
Australia 31 South Africa 14
New Zealand 52 Malawi 27
England 32 Jamaica 19
5th/6th playoff - Jamaica 34 South Africa 33
3rd/4th playoff - Malawi 35 England 32
Grand final - New Zealand 41 Australia 16