Diamonds shine bright to secure Roses test series

AUSTRALIA has won the test series against rivals England, with the Diamonds closing out the best-of-three competition with an eight-goal win at Qudos Bank Arena. Having won the first game by a goal, Australia just needed a victory to ensure it saw off another top rival, while the Roses had to win to make it a ‘live’ game three on Thursday. Though England stemmed the bleeding after a big first term from the home side, it was not enough as Australia closed out game two, 56-48.

AUSTRALIA DIAMONDS 16 | 12 | 14 | 14 (56)
ENGLAND ROSES 11 | 13 | 10 | 14 (48)

With game one in the bag, Australia opted to make a number of chances to its starting lineup for game two, with Cara Koenen at goal shooter, Amy Parmenter at wing defence and Jo Weston at goal defence, while Jamie-Lee Price shuffled up from wing defence to centre. The Roses on the other hand made the one change, with youngster Funmi Fadoju – who had performed strongly game one – started in goal keeper over experienced leader Geva Mentor.

The teams largely went goal-for-goal throughout the opening term, but Australia was able to capitalise late in the quarter by a couple of consecutive goal run-ons, and six gains which resulted in a 16-11 quarter. Kiera Austin was on fire shooting eight goals at 100 per cent, with Koenen (eight from 10) also impressing. Paige Hadley had seven goal assists from 11 feeds, while Parmenter (one goal assists, one intercept) was working hard. For the Roses, Natalie Metcalf picked up six goal assists, while Fadoju was doing her best to confuse Koenen.

Jess Thirlby brought on the experienced Layla Guscoth for Fran Williams in the second term, as the Roses started to build some momentum back. Through Eleanor Cardwell and Helen Housby, England scored eight of the first 11 goals to tie the scores at 19 goals apiece. Unfortunately for the visitors, a strong run from Koenen and Austin in the last five minutes saw Australia score six of the last nine goals to head into the main break with a four-goal advantage.

It was not until the break that Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich chose to make a change, bringing on Maddy Proud for Price, which funnily enough coincided with the Roses changing centres. Laura Malcolm moved up from wing defence, with Imogen Allison replacing her, and Clarke coming to the bench. Unfortunately for the visitors, the first 10 minutes went all the way of the Australians as Austin and Koenen helped the Diamonds race out to a 37-30 lead off the back of five consecutive goals midway through the quarter.

That prompted Thirlby to bring on Mentor for Fadoju, while Hannah Joseph came on at wing attack for Metcalf. Cardwell was doing well in goal shooter, but the Roses were losing one-on-ones across the court. Young gun Sophie Dwyer earned her chance on court in goal attack, as the home side headed into the final break with an eight-goal buffer, 42-34.

Clarke returned to the court for the final term replacing Malcolm, while the Aussies kept the same seven for the last 15 minutes of the match. Effectively the teams went goal for goal for the entire 15 minutes in an even term, and that suited the Diamonds just fine. Though Williams returned to the fray for Guscoth five minutes into the last quarter, the Roses could not catch up enough to get over the line, going down by the same margin that it was at three quarter time, eight goals (56-48).

Koenen finished the game with 29 goals from 31 attempts, as Austin put up 22 from 24. Parmenter was sensational at wing defence with two intercepts, while Sarah Klau had five deflections, three rebounds, six gains and an intercept in defence. Price (18 goal assists) and Hadley (16) were busy in midcourt, with Dwyer shooting five goals from six assists coming on for 16 minutes. For the Roses, Cardwell starred with 40 goals from 45 attempts, while Housby had eight from 10, and an equal team-high 14 goal assists. Fadoju (seven deflections, four gains, two intercepts and one rebound) tried hard in defence.

In what might be a dead rubber in terms of the series, Australia will still aim to clean sweep the visiting Roses up in Queensland, as the sides face off in the third and final match of the tournament, at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Thursday from 7:30pm.

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