The Samsung Diamonds sealed another Netball Quad Series title with a 60-55 win against the New Zealand Silver Ferns at Melbourne Arena.
A boisterous 8011 crowd watched Australia subdue a plucky Kiwi outfit and build confidence across a handful of combinations.
Until recently, goal keeper Courtney Bruce had been striving to cement her spot in the Australian line-up which had been blessed with some skilled and powerful defenders.
But she is now undoubtedly a dominant player at international level after a display of fearlessness and determination.
She finished with a whopping seven intercepts. It was no surprise that she won her second Samsung player of the match award for the series.
Not even a dynamic effort from captain Laura Langman in her 144th Test could save the Ferns who fought hard but were outclassed.
Her energy was rewarded with a game-high 42 feeds and 25 assists and New Zealand gave battled the Diamonds across all four quarters.
The final game of the series was also a revealing one for Gretel Tippett (14/14) who replaced the injured Stephanie Wood and produced one of her best performances in combination with captain Caitlin Bassett (46/50).
Needing a crushing victory to steal the series crown from Australia on their home court, the Ferns started with a single-minded intent to shut down the Diamonds’ space.
And it worked for a period, with Liz Watson knocked to the floor at least once during a frenetic first quarter.
If the Diamonds have proved anything this series, it is their ability to withstand a grind.
A flying Tippett leaping through the air to grasp an offensive rebound was indicative of the Australians’ resolve.
By quarter-time Australia had a five-goal lead but rapidly swinging momentum made it difficult for either side to settle in the lead-up to halftime.
Desperation from both sides meant for an exciting, albeit scrappy, second quarter dotted with intercepts and turnovers.
Australia’s Bruce and Jo Weston, and New Zealand defenders Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Jane Watson picked off a bunch of loose passes between them.
Bruce had six gains, including three intercepts, by halftime when the Diamonds held a 30-25 advantage.
Australia’s Kelsey Browne replaced Watson at halftime as the home side sought to make more from the possession being won by Bruce and Weston.
The Bruce show rolled on in the third quarter. Her strength and body positioning made life increasingly difficult for New Zealand’s goalers.
And when the opportunities presented themselves, she made the right decisions to hunt outside the circle.
Tippett delivered one of her trademark lay-ups to help Australia to a 45-38 lead at three-quarter time.
New Zealand’s fight ensured the Diamonds could not run away with the contest in the last quarter.
Q1: Diamonds 16 v Silver Ferns 11
Q2: Diamonds 14 v Silver Ferns 14
Q3: Diamonds 15 v Silver Ferns 13
Q4: Diamonds 15 v Silver Ferns 17
Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 46/50
Gretel Tippett 14/14
Silver Ferns shooting statistics
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 15/20
Maria Folau 30/34
Aliyah Dunn 10/10
Diamonds starting seven
GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Gretel Tippett, WA: Liz Watson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Jo Weston, GK: Courtney Bruce.
Silver Ferns starting seven
GS: Te Paea Selby-Rickit, GA: Maria Folau, WA: Gina Crampton, C: Laura Langman, WD: Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, GD: Katrina Grant, GK: Jane Watson.