New Zealand will play off for the bronze medal after being outplayed 65-44 by Australia in the semi-finals of the netball tournament today.
It will be another big hurdle for New Zealand - they come up against Jamaica in the bronze medal match after the Caribbean team lost a one-goal cliff-hanger to England in the other semi-final. Jamaica beat New Zealand twice in New Zealand last month.
Australia, defending Commonwealth Games champions and world No 1, were too good today, dictating throughout.
New Zealand failed to capitalise on their turnover opportunities while a red-hot Australia delivered on a wealth of possession with a high shooting return.
Hard-working wing defence Claire Kersten, called into the New Zealand team just two weeks before the Games, was given the biggest challenge of her short international career when named in the starting seven, Samantha Sinclair getting the start at centre.
Australian shooter and captain Caitlin Bassett was a towering presence under the hoop and formed a potent threat with the crafty Susan Pettitt. The Australians quickly established a seven-goal lead and never looked like being headed.
Australia took an 18-12 lead into the first break. Shannon Francois replaced Sinclair on the resumption, providing some fine feeds as New Zealand’s attacking momentum clicked up a gear.
Katrina Grant and Temalisi Fakahokotau fought hard in defence and Maria Folau, attending her fourth Commonwealth Games, toiled industriously on attack, but the Australians had overall court mastery.
New Zealand introduced shooter Bailey Mes for the last five minutes of the half, but by the break Australia had stretched the lead to 32-21.
Australia then moved into overdrive and jumped to a 50-30 lead at three-quarter time.
Young New Zealand defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio were injected late in the game, but there was nothing New Zealand could do to halt the inexorable Australian advance.
After the game, New Zealand captain Grant said it was hard losing in such a fashion and was looking for a better performance tomorrow. “We have to fix things pretty darn quickly,” Grant said.
She said having lost three times in the tournament was a surprise.
“We didn’t come here to lose. We have to make sure we leave it all out there on the floor.”
Coach Janine Southby said she was disappointed with the Australia game.
“We were under pressure right from the word go,” she said. “Australia are a quality team. We tried to find some weaknesses and looked and looked, but there aren’t many.”Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Samantha Sinclair Katrina Grant Temalisi Fakahokotau Bailey Mes Michaela Sokolich-Beatson Ameliaranne Ekenasio Janine Southby Netball