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Diamonds seal series 3-0

Despite fighting back in the 3rd and 4th quarter it was Australia that took the series.

After a storming first quarter that saw the hosts take a 19-11 lead, the Vitality Roses fought back, winning the final two quarters to set up an exciting end to the international series.

Quarter One:
Making her first start for the Australian Diamonds after recovering from illness, Donnell Wallam got the game underway, opening the scoring for the Diamonds. The hosts extended their lead soon after as the Vitality Roses struggled to find their rhythm. Player of the Match from the second test, Amy Parmenter picked up where she left off, disrupting the play in the middle of the court as the Diamonds stretched to a seven-goal lead.

With the Vitality Roses struggling in the second phase, Head Coach Jess Thirlby quickly made some changes and brought on Layla Guscoth and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis for Geva Mentor and Helen Housby. Meanwhile, in the Diamonds shooting end, Wallam maintained her 100% shooting record, making it 10/10, keeping her composure just before the end of the quarter as the hosts stretched their lead to eight.

Quarter Two:
Needing a response, Fadoju helped ensure the Vitality Roses got off on the front foot, producing some superb tips in the circle to help swing momentum in England’s favour. At the other end, the energy of goal attack Sophie Drakeford-Lewis helped open up the space for Cardwell under the post as Maddy Turner, making her first start for the Diamonds, tried to keep up with the Surrey Storm attacker. Midway through the second quarter, the Diamonds rose back into the ascendancy as the Vitality Roses began to misfire with some long feeds into the circle. Paige Hadley became the Diamonds’ main source of service as she combined well with sharp shooters Austin and Wallam as the two sides battled out a 13-13 quarter, keeping the margin to eight goals.

Quarter Three:
Into the second half and looking to set up some more structure in the defensive end, Fran Williams came on for Layla Guscoth. And the Loughborough Lightning defender made an immediate impact, slowing down the Aussie attack and picking off two brilliant tips to help get the Vitality Roses up the court. Pushed on by the team’s good defensive work, England’s attacking end began to find more consistency with the feed into the circle as skipper Nat Metcalf and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis produced some well-weighted passes, high into Cardwell who positioned herself well and converted under the post.

Australian Diamonds Head Coach Stacey Marinkovich tried to sharpen up her attacking end, bringing in Sophie Garbin for Wallam. Despite the change, the Vitality Roses, spurred by an encouraging start to the third quarter, kept up with the Diamonds, keeping the margin to five and winning the quarter 14-11 to set up an exciting final 15 minutes.

Quarter Four:
Looking to build on the momentum gained in the third quarter, the Vitality Roses went in search of quick goals to close the gap. Just two minutes in, Cardwell showed great balance and core strength to keep the ball in play from a long feed and scooped the ball into the net from a tight angle. With three now the difference, the England midcourt tried to capitalise but began to stall in the middle as the Diamonds came back on the attack and reaffirmed an eight-goal lead. Team Bath’s Imogen Allison was called from the bench to replace Jade Clarke as Jess Thirlby looked to add some energy into the side heading into the final few minutes. The Vitality Roses came again and closed the gap to within four but the defensive end of Sarah Klau and Courtney Bruce stood firm, keeping England’s attackers at bay as they held on for a 57-53 win and a third win of the series.

Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby said after the game: “We’ve shown some great resilience and grit against a quality side and there’s a lot for us to take away.

“We learnt an incredible amount about individuals who have little international experience and are learning in a cauldron playing over here.”

Captain Nat Metcalf added: “The last time we flew over to Australia was back in 2018 so it’s been great to be able to play netball again over on this side of the world and to play in front of over 14,000 fans in Sydney [second test] was a moment we’ll never forget.

“We’ve left everything out on court. We’ve really grown as a group across the series and taken some key learnings as we journey towards the Netball World Cup in South Africa.”

Australian Diamonds starting seven: Courtney Bruce (GK), Maddy Turner (GD), Amy Parmenter (WD), Kate Moloney (C), Paige Hadley (WA), Kiera Austin (GA), Donnell Wallam (GS)

Substitutes: Sarah Klau, Sophie Dwyer, Sophie Garbin, Jamie-Lee Price, Jo Weston

Vitality Roses starting seven: Geva Mentor (GK), Funmi Fadoju (GD), Laura Malcolm (WD), Jade Clarke (C), Natalie Metcalf (WA), Eleanor Cardwell (GA), Helen Housby (GS)

Substitutes: Imogen Allison, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Layla Guscoth, Hannah Joseph, Fran Williams

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