Australia’s inability to find their shooters cost them dearly in the Netball Quad series finale against New Zealand, captain Caitlin Bassett believes.
The Diamonds were comprehensively outplayed 57-47 by New Zealand in Invercargill, losing the four-nation tournament title after earlier beating England and South Africa.
The Silver Ferns ran away with the first quarter 18-10, then held their nerve over the remaining 45 minutes to shut out their second win over the world champions in nearly two years.
Bassett said the Australians had failed to respond to New Zealand’s lift in intensity.
“I think once we got the ball in the circle, there was no issue – it was getting the ball into the circle that we had an issue with,” she said.
“I think tonight we lost our connection – we didn’t play as a team.
“We were doing too much individual work, and not enough unit work.
“That was what the Silver Ferns did well: they split us apart and they exposed us, they put us in individual units and we didn’t get back together again.”
Two positional changes were key in the New Zealand win – the introduction of 20-year-old 192cm goalkeeper Kelly Jury to mark Bassett, and the shift of shooter Bailey Mes to goal attack.
Coach Lisa Alexander admitted her players didn’t adjust well to either change, and she was particularly unhappy with Jury’s impact on the game.
“She did very well, but I think she got away with a bit in the circle though,” Alexander said.
“There were a lot of hands across and I thought she was too close on a number of occasions, so I’ll speak to the umpires about that.”
While Mes did a solid job in sinking 17 from 18, it was the work she did further up the court which proved crucial.
Her height and athleticism was invaluable in bringing the ball downcourt, while her defensive skills forced numerous turnovers, including three clear intercepts.
The Diamonds did themselves no favours with an uncharacteristically disorganised response to New Zealand’s zone defence, something Alexander struggled to explain.
“We know we’ve got an all-out out strategy against the zone, but we simply didn’t do it – I can’t explain it any other way,” she said.
While the introduction of Liz Watson helped boost Australia’s midcourt, 43-cap centre Kim Ravaillion was too often ineffective.
“At the end of the day, Kim is the more experienced player, she’s played in these competitions before and we would have expected her to step up,” Alexander said.
“Unfortunately, she just didn’t have the drive.”