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Australia Defeat Silver Ferns 57-53 In Game Four To Win Constellation Cup

23 October, 2022

The Constellation Cup has headed back into Australian hands after the Silver Ferns were undone by a poor third quarter when losing the fourth Test 57-53 on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

The Silver Ferns delivered a commendable first half to hold at five goal lead at the main break but fell away in the face of a rampant Diamonds side to lose the third stanza 19-8. The visitors responded admirably to win the fourth quarter but repairing the full extent of the damage proved a bridge too far.

After dropping the first two clashes, the Diamonds made the most of their first game on home soil in 1088 days, turning the tables in a must-win third clash in Melbourne last week, leaving a live fourth and final decider in a winner-takes-all scenario.

Both sides went with unchanged starting sevens from the previous Test which included Maddy Gordon pairing with Whitney Souness in the Silver Ferns midcourt and shooter Sophie Garbin and defender Jo Weston, who were impressive contributors for the Diamonds.

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua got just what she wanted when her side rocketed out of the blocks with a terrific start, the visitors standing firm and not taking a backward step in the heat of the contest with a strong physical presence.

Showing plenty of purpose and intent, midcourters Souness and Gordon, rose above the oppressive defensive challenge, forced to work extra hard but reward coming through excellent movement and lightning-quick feeds into shooting target Grace Nweke.

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Gordon showed she learnt plenty from her previous outing, her slick skill set and no fear of delivering the ball into the circle providing plenty of impetus. Nweke and skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio gave the Diamonds defenders plenty to think about with their quick interplay and accuracy.

Bursting out to a seven-goal, the Silver Ferns were reeled in by a fast-finishing Australia. Goal attack Steph Wood played a strong hand in keeping the home side in the contest, the Diamonds shooters scoring all their attempts as the Silver Ferns had their margin trimmed to a 16-13 lead at the first break.

Both sides produced an action-packed second stanza, the Diamonds delivering decisive attacking play while Garbin became a prominent figure under the hoop. There was plenty of nip and tuck with the Diamonds drawing within two before the Silver Feens rallied and repelled.

The Silver Ferns picked up more turnover opportunities than their opponents where wing defence Kate Heffernan got a couple of pick-ups and goalkeeper Kelly Jury some handy rebound ball to help the visitors’ keep their noses in front.

Amy Parmenter was introduced at wing defence for the Diamonds late in the piece with Jamie-Lee Price moving to centre.

The Silver Ferns retained their resilient mood to head into the half-time break with a 30-27 lead.

The Garbin and Wood shooting connection rose to new levels during a decisive third spell. With Wood the mastermind on attack, Australia’s consistency and strong driving play on attack left the Silver Ferns defenders chasing.

On attack, the Silver Ferns lost their movement, opening the door for a rampant quarter from the home side. Taking four minutes to score their first goal of the quarter immediately put the Silver Ferns on the back foot.

Elle Temu, Kayla Johnson and Kimiora Poi entered the fray but the Silver Ferns had few answers.

With Garbin missing just the one shot (28 from 29), Australia quickly ate into the deficit before hitting the lead. With all the momentum and powering to a handy 44-38 lead at the last turn, the Diamonds ensured it would be an uphill battle for the Silver Ferns in the run home.

Official Result and Stats:

Silver Ferns: 53
Australia: 57

Champion Data Match Centre

Shooting Stats - Silver Ferns:
Grace Nweke 39/43 (91%)
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 14/15 (93%)

Shooting Stats - Australia:
Sophie Garbin 36/39 (92%)
Steph Wood 21/27 (78%)

© Scoop Media

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