Quad Series Talking Points: Making the most of opportunities

Liz Watson (Captain) of Australia with the trophy as Team Australia celebrates winning the Quad Series title Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images

The Australian Diamonds have gone back-to-back, taking out the 2023 Quad series after defeating the New Zealand Silver Ferns by six goals in a fiery contest to wrap up the tournament.

The match certainly didn't disappoint, proving to be another classic game in the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich kept her starting seven for the entire match, really building as the game wore on and remained calm under pressure.

ESPN takes a look at the three biggest talking points from the final.

Steph Wood leading from the front

Much like the preliminary round matchup between these two sides, Diamonds vice-captain Steph Wood was among the best in the attack end with the goal attack controlling the play in attack and into the goal circle.

Using her game smarts to slip past the Silver Ferns defence she opened the goal circle with ease, and with her ability to sink long range shots with her signature step back or place the perfect ball out of the hands of the Silver Ferns defence to find Cara Koene, Wood is a true double threat in the circle.

With Wood as dangerous as she is, especially from just about anywhere in the goal circle, she becomes a target for double defence and on several occasions found herself drawing both Silver Ferns defenders to the top of the circle, leaving Koenen free on the baseline for the easy goal.

Supported by a strong midcourt in Liz Watson and Paige Hadley, the shooting duo were able to open the space with ease with pinpoint accurate passes opening the path to goal up nicely.

Playing the full 60-minutes, Wood was almost unstoppable when going to post, finishing the game with 23 goals at 82 percent accuracy.

Silver Ferns shooting combination one of the best in the world

Whilst only finding form in the last six months, the combinations between Grace Nweke and Ameliaranne Ekenasio is quickly becoming one of the best goal circles in international netball, with the performance from the first half of the final proving what they're capable of when they start to click.

Whilst Nweke is close to unstoppable on her own, adding the experience and leadership that Ekenasio brings into the goal circle comes close to creating the perfect shooting.

Taking the bulk of the shots early, Nweke was complemented by Ekenasio playing the role of the extra feeder in the goal circle, but as the game wore on the Silver Ferns captain started to put up a few shots of her own.

Supported in the midcourt with the likes of Kate Heffernan and Gina Crampton in that first half, who can feed the ball into Nweke with pinpoint precision, it made it hard for the Diamonds defence to get their hands on any ball.

As the tide began to turn against the Silver Ferns through several unforced errors and the Diamonds found the ascendancy, it was Ekansaio who took her game to another level in the final quarter and gave her side a fighting chance to wrestle the game back, with her ability to split in front of the post and put up the shot.

Nweke, who was named the player of the series, finished the game with 39 goals shooting at 87 percent while Ekenasio finished the match with 11 goals at 100 percent accuracy.

Making the most of opportunities

In a game that gives very little in terms of defensive opportunity, like what was seen in the first half of the final, it's important for both sides to convert those opportunities when they arise.

That's what the Diamonds did in the third quarter, turning the match on its head through converting the opportunities that came about through unforced errors from the Silver Ferns.

The Diamonds went on to win that third quarter 14-9, with the 15-minute period proving to be the difference in the second half, with New Zealand struggling to convert when Australia turned the ball over.

If it wasn't an unforced error, it was the defence out the front of Nweke that earned the Diamonds opportunities, with Ash Brazill proving to be an important member of the side, finishing the match with two intercepts and four gains.

Inside the defensive circle it was the combination of Courtney Bruce and Sarah Klau who forced mistakes from Nweke and Ekenasio after they built their way into the match. Bruce, who was named the defender of the series, finished the match with one intercept and one gain.

Going back-to-back and claiming their seventh Quad Series title, the Diamonds will now turn their focus to the World Cup with Marinkovich left with several selection headaches as to who she'll bring back to Cape Town come July.