Netball – the Constellation Cup

New Zealand defeats Australia in Game One 49-44

Four tests – all played in Christchurch. The first competitive game for the Australian team in over a year and a half due to Covid. Game One sees a narrow win for the home side in front of – no crowd – due to Covid. The result sets up a difficult task for Australia. It needs to win all three remaining games or tie the series 2 all with a healthier goal difference to retain the Constellation Cup, which it has won eight times consecutively. Read about it here for the full details of Game One:

New Zealand beats Australia 49-44 in game one of the Constellation Cup netball series in Christchurch

Posted Yesterday at 7:51pm

The Silver Ferns put Australia under pressure from the start.

AAP: John Davidson

The Diamonds have slipped to defeat in their return to Test netball, losing 49-44 to New Zealand in the Constellation Cup opener on Tuesday night.

Key points:

  • Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds, have won the Constellation Cup series against New Zealand seven times in a row
  • However the Diamonds have lost game one of the 2021 series to the Silver Ferns in Christchurch
  • New Zealand led by seven goals at half-time, and although the Diamonds edged the final quarter, the home side won 49-44

Some 492 days since their last outing and just two days out of quarantine, Australia were beaten out of the blocks in Christchurch and never recovered.

The match was Stacey Marinkovich’s first as Australia coach and the victory will raise Kiwi hopes of winning the Cup for the first time since 2012.

Australia went in with five debutants. Kiera Austin started at goal attack, alongside her former Giants teammate Caitlin Bassett.

Four of the five players on the bench were also playing their first game for Australia; Sophie Garbin, Kim Jenner, Cara Koenen and Verity Charles.

The home side began strongly, going on a five-goal run to get out to a 10-5 lead. Australia responded with three goals in a row, but the Diamonds ended up trailing 14-10 at quarter-time.

Australia scored the first two goals of the second quarter to close within two, but that was as close as they got.

New Zealand gradually took control again and established a 28-21 lead at the main break.

The Silver Ferns’ lead blew out to double figures early in the third term before Australia stormed back.

Marinkovich rang the changes and had some success; captain Bassett and Austin in goal attack put on five straight goals.

The injection of Karin Burger in defence midway through the third term turned the tables and the Silver Ferns went to the last change ahead 40-31.

Constellation Cup game one:

TeamQTHT3QTFT
New Zealand14284049
Australia10213144

Scorers:

NZ: M Wilson 31/40, A Ekenasio 18/23

AUS: C Bassett 19/21, K Austin 18/24

Centre Liz Watson said the Diamonds made “basic errors” and “struggled to get through the zone defence”.

Australia shaded New Zealand in the fourth quarter, winning it 13-9, but left themselves too much to do.

Bassett, the regular skipper under former coach Lisa Alexander but the first of Marinkovich’s rotated leaders in this series, scored 19 goals from 21 attempts in a typically strong display.

The Silver Ferns were outscored in the final quarter, but they will take a 1-0 lead into game two against Australia.(

AAP: John Davidson

Against a steely Silver Ferns defence, Austin showed early nerves, missing four of her first 10 before finishing with 18 from 24 shots.

Charles played the second half at wing attack.

While Koenen took Bassett’s place for the fourth term and scored seven, shooting at 100 per cent.

For New Zealand, goal shooter Maia Wilson was the leader in attack with 31 goals from 40 attempts.

Skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio shot 18 from 23, and added 12 handy assists.

Australia will need to win the final three games or tie the series 2-2 with a healthier goal difference to retain the Constellation Cup for an eighth straight time.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua, who masterminded a boilover 2019 World Cup final win over Australia, served the Diamonds notice of their intent.

“We’re gunning for it. Now is the time for us,” Taurua said.

The series has been rearranged due to COVID-19, with all four Tests being played in Christchurch without crowds.

Game two is on Wednesday before the series concludes with matches on Saturday and Sunday.

ABC/AAP

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