The crowd in the Copper Box Arena was deafening as the Origin Diamonds and the Vitality Roses ran out on to court for the 2022 Netball Quad Series final.
Both coaches opted for experienced lineups, with Vitality Roses head coach Jess Thirlby selecting Eleanor Cardwell (GS), Helen Housby (GA), Natalie Metcalf (WA), Serena Guthrie (C), Beth Cobden (WD), Layla Guscoth (GD) and Geva Mentor (GK), while Origin Diamonds head coach Stacey Marinkovich gave the nod to Gretel Bueta (GS), Stephanie Wood (GA), Liz Watson (WA), Paige Hadley (C), Ash Brazill (WD), Jo Weston (GD) and Courtney Bruce (GK).
The Diamonds settled quickly in the first quarter and took an early 4-1 lead before the Vitality Roses began to switch into gear, Cardwell sinking a long bomb to bring the score all square.
Guscoth came up with a turnover under the post that lifted the crowd and though the Roses lost a centre pass with a miscommunication between Housby and Guthrie, they showed they weren’t willing to let it go lightly as they forced a held ball to win back possession.
After the first quarter ended 14-12 the way of the Roses, Marinkovich elected to bring Sarah Klau on at GK but Cardwell continued to hold strongly against the Diamonds defender, her teammates finding her easily under the post.
Sensing danger, the Diamonds stepped it up a gear with Hadley using all her speed to hit the circle edge and Bueta once again aweing the crowd with her aerial ability, keeping the ball from going out of play and returning it to Diamonds hands. They began to apply a zone defence and the Roses flirted twice with the three-second rule, before finding Cardwell in space under the post.
An aerial pass from Serena Guthrie into Cardwell brought the crowd to their feet as the Roses stretched out to a four-goal lead, Bueta and Wood again doing their best to halt the momentum as the quarter finished 27-25 to the Roses.
Marinkovich made changes in the third quarter, bringing Bruce on to GD, while Thirlby again switched the bibs of Housby and Cardwell. The Roses shooting pair settled into their rotation early, using the top to fire passes into the baseline, but Klau won a crucial ball from her NSW teammate Housby and brought the Diamonds back in contention.
New Manchester Thunder recruit Metcalf found her stride for the home side, breaking through the Diamonds centre pass defence and firing passes into new domestic teammate Cardwell; however Klau and Bruce continued to cause issues, winning ball to put the Diamonds ahead by two.
The pressure on both teams started to show as both made uncharacteristic errors, putting the ball off the sidelines to recycle possession. As Klau was given a caution for obstructing Cardwell, Thirlby reached for the bench, bringing Malcolm back to C and putting captain Guthrie to WD. The Manchester Thunder player found her feet quickly and England pulled back to a narrow 1-goal lead.
Playing her 152nd game, Mentor picked off a pass in the Diamonds shooting circle to finish the third quarter 41-40 the way of the home side.
Marinkovich made another change for the last quarter, bringing Weston back to GD to partner Klau and the two put pressure on the Roses shooters, winning two turnovers in the early minutes to bring Australia to a three-goal lead. The deficit served only to fire up Housby, who played every second ball around the goal third and put up another trademark clutch long-range shot. With nine minutes to go, Thirlby looked to the bench and gave George Fisher, Beth Cobden and Eboni Usoro-Brown the nod to take the court. Undeterred, the Diamonds attack continued to fire and the score stretched out to a seven-goal margin the way of the visitors.
As the Diamonds began to play for possession, the Roses fought hard to get back into contention but rebounds continued to fall the way of the Diamonds defensive pairing.
The Origin Diamonds retained their Netball Quad Series title with the match ending 58-46 in their favour, while for the Roses, there were plenty of learnings to take away ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the summer.
Gretel Bueta was awarded Player of the Match and Player of the Series after a dominant display in the final, shooting 41 goals at 100%.