The second round of Quad Series fixtures provided two thrilling matches that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
New Zealand 45 – 49 England
First up, in Auckland, England stunned the capacity crowd when they defeated New Zealand 49 – 45. The Roses have only beaten the Silver Ferns 4 times in 87 previous tests prior to this match and with an electric home crowd in favor of New Zealand, the odds seemed stacked against Tracey Neville’s side. England trailed at every quarter by the narrowest of margins, but a inspired final quarter ensured victory for the Roses.
The Roses took the lead for only the second time in the game with 3 minutes to play, through Helen Housby who continued her good goal scoring record. Wing attack Chelsea Pitman was named player of the match, mainly for the relentless pace she kept up throughout the game and key turnovers she gained for her side.
New Zealand who were shaky against South Africa in the previous Quad Series game had key absentees from the squad. Veteran Maria Tutaia was unavailable due to a family bereavement and young defender Kelly Jury suffered a training injury in the build up to this game. Bailey Mes, however, carried on her stellar goal scoring record, netting 28 out 33 attempts but it wasn’t enough to topple the resilient Roses.
Both sides can still win the series although will need big margin victories and the other result to favor them on Sunday. New Zealand will need a convincing win over defending champions Australia while England will need to better New Zealand’s result when they take on South Africa. A win of any kind for Australia will extinguish any hopes of the title for the Silver Ferns and the Roses.
Q1 – New Zealand 14 – 10 England
HT – New Zealand 26 – 23 England
Q3 – New Zealand 37 – 36 England
FT – New Zealand 45 – 49 England
Australia 58 – 52 South Africa
A sold out crowd in Canberra was in a expectant mood when defending champions took on a side that had never beaten them in a test match before. Adding the fact that the Diamonds has never lost a game in Canberra before, it appeared to be a relatively straightforward task for the world champions. This was certainly not the case as a determined South Africa side pushed Australia all the way but just fell short at the last hurdle.
South Africa, who impressed against New Zealand, continued on the same vein against Australia as both sides went in level on 27 each at half time. Erin Burger and Karla Mostert were influential within the South African side, both providing key interceptions and key long range passing throughout the 60 minutes.
It was in the third quarter where Australia stepped up as they opened a 5 goal margin which South Africa couldn’t respond to. Caitlin Thwaites once again proved to be clinical for the Diamonds as she netted 30 out of her 33 attempts in the first 3 quarters. She was replaced by captain Caitlin Bassett who added 7 goals in the last quarter to ensure victory for the Diamonds.
A second defeat for South Africa means they cannot win the series but they can take a lot of positives out of their two performances so far. The Proteas will look to end their series with a win against England on Sunday. As for Australia, they hold all the cards going into the final round of matches. A win by any margin will make them Quad Series champions once again.
Q1 – Australia 14 – 11 South Africa
HT – Australia 27 – 27 South Africa
Q3 – Australia 44 – 39 South Africa
FT – Australia 58 – 52 South Africa
Final Quad Series Fixtures – 3rd September (*local times*)
England V South Africa (2pm, Stadium Southland, Invercargill, New Zealand)
New Zealand V Australia (4pm, Stadium Southland, Invercargill, New Zealand)