Diamonds sparkle in World Cup finale
A RELENTLESS and physical Australian side provided defender Julie Corletto with a fairytale end to her career, holding off a valiant New Zealand to win the 2015 World Cup 58-55 in Sydney.
It was the third consecutive World Cup final victory for the popular Victorian, who combined brilliantly with captain Laura Geitz in the defensive circle.
The Diamonds set up the win in the first quarter, charging out to a 16-7 lead at the first change, keeping New Zealand to its lowest-scoring quarter of the tournament.
The Silver Ferns won each of the next three quarters, but the damage had been done.
Geitz said she was extremely proud of the way her team had bounced back from the loss to New Zealand in the preliminary rounds to secure the ultimate success in front of a world record crowd of 16,752 fans yesterday.
"To finish like that in front of our home crowd, to have family here and to play with that particular group of girls, to play with Julie Corletto, it's wonderful to step into the defensive circle with such a wonderful athlete," Geitz said.
"World Cup netball, that's what it comes down to, hard work and just grinding away. Our attackers were just sensational and capitalised on every tip and touch that we got ... and the first quarter set us up nicely."
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett, who scored the winning goal in the final second of extra-time to give Australia victory over New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup in Singapore, finished with a game-high 47 goals from 50 attempts.
Partner-in-crime Natalie Medhurst, also playing in her third straight World Cup final, regularly led up outside the shooting circle to ensure Bassett was left one-on-one with goal keeper Casey Kopua.
At the other end, the defensive pressure from Corletto and Geitz ensured goal shooter Maria Tutaia was forced to shoot from much further away for goal than Bassett, resulting in her finishing with 38 goals from 53 attempts. Despite the slow start, New Zealand refused to give in.
The Kiwis reduced the deficit to four goals mid-way through the third quarter.
Australia was able to steady and took a match-winning six-goal break into the final session.
Kopua said her team simply gave away too big a start.
"We won three quarters out of four. We gave them a wake-up call last week. Today we just didn't start very well," the skipper said.
Meanwhile, England proved too strong for Jamaica in the bronze medal game, running out 66-44 winners.
Malawi's champion goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda was named the player of the tournament after scoring 351 goals in eight games at 91% accuracy.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU