It will billed as a revenge match and that is what Australia exacted in a thrilling 52-47 Quad Series win over England in front of a packed Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night.
It was the first time international netball had been played in Newcastle since 2012 and the 4544-strong crowd were treated to a nail-biting game played at a frenetic pace.
When the countries last met, the Roses stunned the world to beat the Diamonds by one goal in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match on the Gold Coast in April.
It was the Commonwealth Games champions, who were missing key shooter Jo Harten through injury, asserting an early authority on the rematch. The Roses had shot out to a 4-1 lead after three minutes and were ahead 14-11 at the first break.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander made a tactical change at quarter-time, bringing on Liz Watson at centre for Kim Ravaillion.
The move paid dividends for the Diamonds, who were able to find more space, particularly out wide, and Watson went on to produce a Most Valuable Player performance.
“I just wanted a bit more strength in our defence particularly, I just wasn’t seeing that ... and also some more composure in attack and letting that ball go,” Alexander said.
Alexander described the match as “a grind” but was overall pleased with Australia’s fightback.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to win what’s in front of you and I thought we did that well, particularly in that second quarter,” she said, before then talking down the revenge angle.
“It’s about establishing our way of playing. We’ve got a new group; we want to establish our new way of playing and for bits of tonight I thought we did that.”
Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett was also in outstanding form, shooting 37 goals from 40 attempts.
The Australian skipper said it was a crucial win ahead of the World Cup next year and had extra significance for her as Newcastle was where she debuted for the Diamonds a decade ago.
“I love playing here because I’ve always got great memories of that first Test,” Bassett said.
“It was an important win leading up the World Cup. It’s the last time we get to play them, so to have that win was awesome. It just gives us that confidence now going into New Zealand.”
Bassett scored four unanswered goals midway through the second period to take Australia from 17-15 down into a 19-17 lead then goal attack Stephanie Wood scored to give the Diamonds a 20-17 advantage.
England staged a late surge in the second quarter, scoring three in row to lock the game at 24-24 with 90 seconds left before the main break.
Australian goal attack Stephanie Wood put the host country up 25-24 then scored again as the whistle blew to give the Diamonds a two-goal half-time buffer of 26-24 after England goal shooter Kadeen Corbin missed a shot up the other end of the court and turned the ball over.
The Diamonds made some crucial turnovers in the third quarter and shot out to a seven-goal lead, which they maintained to be ahead 41-34 at three-quarter time.
But the game went down to the wire with England scoring seven consecutive goals in the middle section of the final period to bridge the game to two goals with Australia up 44-42 with seven minutes remaining.
Bassett’s three-goal haul with four minutes to go gave the Aussies some breathing space and they were not headed from there.
The match was played 11 days after a pre-season basketball clash between Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings and the Illawarra Hawks to be played at the same venue was embarrassingly abandoned at the eleventh hour when it was ruled to be too slippery and dangerous for play.
But there were no signs of any on-court issues on Wednesday night.
The Diamonds back up against the Kiwis in Melbourne on Sunday after England play South Africa.