Australia

Australian women's top teams experience highs and lows

Australia's Gretel Tippett (centre) and Caitlin Bassett (right) celebrate with their silver medals after finishing second place during the Netball World Cup. Source: PA Wire

Australia have retained the women's Ashes, while in the netball world cup the green-and-gold have fallen to New Zealand at the final hurdle.

Australia's top women's sporting team had mixed results on Sunday, with the cricket team securing the Ashes while the netballers finished second in the world cup to New Zealand.

Going into Sunday's match with a six-point lead, Australia only needed to avoid defeat to clinch the women's Ashes, with three T20s still to play, and were ultimately happy to settle for a draw rather than chase victory in the last session at Taunton.

Australia's Ellyse Perry celebrates taking the wicket of England's Tammy Beaumont during day three.
Australia's Ellyse Perry celebrates taking the wicket of England's Tammy Beaumont during day three.
PA Wire

First-innings centurion Ellyse Perry finished unbeaten on 76, leaving her 24 runs short of becoming the first woman to hit two hundreds in a Test match, as Australia ended the game on 6-221.

A stalemate was all but certain from the moment England avoided the follow-on in the morning session and, despite a first-innings lead of 145, Australia opted to let Perry rack up runs rather than give the hosts the faintest of chances to chase a target.

Meg Lanning felt failing to restrict England to under 270 on the final morning ultimately ended the game as a contest and, with the time lost to rain on day two, bowling the hosts out on a flat pitch was not feasible.

"We had a good chat about what our options were and whether we could force a result," Lanning said.

"The pitch wasn't really deteriorating as we thought it would, so we just didn't think there was enough time to be able to bowl them out.

"We were hoping to be in a position to enforce the follow on and that was the best chance of winning.

"That time taken out of the game on day two probably didn't allow us to get there.

England captain Heather Knight directs her field during day four.
England captain Heather Knight directs her field during day four.
PA Wire

England coach Robinson denied suggestions his side cost themselves the chance to win with negative play after tea on day three, when at one stage there were 33 consecutive dot balls.

"I don't think anybody intentionally tried to shut up shop," Robinson said.

"There were definitely no instructions to do anything else. You always want to play with intent."

Robinson felt Sophie Ecclestone having a lbw appeal against Perry turned down in the middle session, when the all-rounder was on 20, was the last chance they had of bowling out.

Prior to that, Sophie Marsh had taken the wickets of Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes in an over and Lanning (21) contrived to hit a thigh-high full toss from Kirstie Gordon (1-19) to Georgia Elwiss at cover.

Earlier, England's Nat Sciver came within 12 runs of a maiden Test century when she agonisingly chopped a ball from Jonassen onto her stumps, as England finished on 9-275 with Australia debutant Sophie Molineux taking 4-95.

Lanning insists motivation will not be a problem in the three remaining T20 internationals, with the irritation of allowing England to salvage a draw in the 2017/18 series fresh in the squad's minds.

"We came over here to firstly retain the Ashes so it's nice to tick that off I guess," Lanning said.

"We still feel like we've got a bit to achieve on this tour. We finished 8-8 in the Ashes series in Australia and we really don't want to feel like that again."

The sides next meet again on Friday in the first T20 international in Chelmsford.

Diamonds lose to New Zealand

New Zealand have ended Australia's dominance of the Netball World Cup by knocking off the Diamonds 52-51 in an absorbing final in Liverpool.

Embarrassed at last year's Commonwealth Games after defeat to Malawi saw them fail to win a medal, the Silver Ferns capped off a remarkable turnaround under master coach Noeline Taurua to deny the Diamonds a 12th title on Sunday.

Taurua, who has led Sunshine Coast Lightning to two successive Super Netball titles, took over the post 11 months ago following that disastrous campaign on the Gold Coast and turned the team into world champions.

The victory also prevented a fourth successive crown for Australia as New Zealand lifted the trophy for the first time since 2003.

New Zealand players celebrate their victory against Australia.
New Zealand players celebrate their victory against Australia.
PA Wire

In a sixth successive World Cup match-up between the two nations, the game was a predictably tight affair with the lead exchanging hands on numerous occasions in the opening exchanges.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander opted for the side that beat New Zealand by a single goal on Thursday, with skipper Caitlin Bassett, Steph Wood and Kelsey Browne all restored to the attacking line-up.

The scores were locked at 10-all after the opening quarter, but the Silver Ferns got their noses firmly in front with two unanswered goals from Maria Folau on the stroke of halftime to open up a 28-25 lead.

With New Zealand captain Laura Langman dictating proceedings at the centre of the court, Australia lacked the fluency in attack that they showed against South Africa in Saturday's semi-final.

Alexander brought on Gretal Tippett at halftime, but it failed to halt the charge of the Silver Ferns, who opened up a seven-point lead midway through the third stanza.

Trailing by four at the start of the final quarter, the Diamonds started strongly with three quickfire scores to reduce the lead.

But New Zealand kept their noses in front with Folau (25 from 35) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (24 from 26) holding their nerves inside the semi-circle with clutch finishes.

With less than a minute remaining a Bassett (35 from 40) goal cut the deficit to a point but it was too little too late as Australia failed to turn the ball over and regain possession as the clock ran down.

"It's obviously not the result we wanted today," Bassett said.

"It was such a close finish and I don't think you could have asked for any more from any of the girls in our team.

"It's one goal. It's always going to be tight against New Zealand. It is what it is."

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