Netball fans and commentators have been left stunned by extraordinary scenes in Australia's quad series win over New Zealand. The Diamonds secured the title on Wednesday night in South Africa after finishing the four-team tournament undefeated.
However Wednesday night's 56-50 victory over New Zealand in Cape Town came amid controversy over a comical umpiring gaffe. With the Aussies up 51-44 in the final quarter, New Zealand shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio nailed a goal as the umpire called obstruction on Diamonds goalkeeper Courtney Bruce.
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Bruce tangled with Grace Nweke and both players went tumbling to the ground as Ekenasio's shot went through the net. But the tumble involving Bruce and Nweke seemed to distract the umpire, who couldn't recall seeing the ball go in.
In extraordinary scenes, the umpires called a throw-in to Australia, deciding that New Zealand had taken the penalty and missed the shot. Both umpires conferred and couldn't recall seeing the ball go in, awarding possession to Australia as a result.
“How is it you have a situation where neither umpire sees whether or not the goal is scored? It’s extraordinary,” Jenny Woods said in commentary. “This is nuts! We have proof of the goal being scored. Surely they could have gone to the bench. We have seen everything now in this game.”
Cath Cox added: “I cannot believe my eyes. We’ll have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Wow, wow, wow. I haven’t seen that happen in any game I can remember.”
After players and coaches told the umpires that the ball had in fact gone in, the officials decided to restart the game with a toss-up. They came to the conclusion that they couldn't award the goal because neither could say they'd seen the ball go in.
— Trisha Astin (@AstinTrisha) January 25, 2023
Yep this happened in the final@of the quad series.. mental
— Rachel (@rgell1) January 25, 2023
I think Gary made her question herself when he said it was a throw in and no goal scored, before even saying he wasn't looking. What a mess.
— Carolyn Hughes (@cazzrhughes) January 25, 2023
One shouldn’t the ball just stay with NZ, and two shouldn’t the Aussie girls have just said it was a goal
— Sports Boxx (@SportsBoxx) January 25, 2023
shows the days of neutral umpires need to go, get the best umpiring the best. To think an Aussie or Kiwi umpire would give calls one way or another is from a bygone era and is a disservice to the current crop of Aussie and kiwi umpires. Imagine if that was the final goal of a WC?
— Murray Conallin (@MConallin) January 25, 2023
Diamonds show netball dominance in quad series win
The quad series triumph was an emphatic statement from a Diamonds side intent on getting their world title back. It marked Australia's seventh title in eight instalments of the four-team competition against New Zealand, South Africa and England.
The Diamonds have now won four-straight games against New Zealand and will be hell-bent on winning back the World Cup crown the Silver Ferns claimed in 2019 in Liverpool. Stacey Marinkovich's side will return to the same Cape Town International Convention Centre in August for the latest edition of the World Cup on the back of recent wins in the Constellation Cup and Commonwealth Games.
"Really happy with that one," Diamonds captain Liz Watson said. "We built something in this second match against the Silver Ferns. It's a really great confidence builder for us - we put out a really great last quarter that we've been wanting to do this whole series."
Steph Wood was once again the star for Australia, scoring 33 goals from 34 attempts. The shooter was voted player of the match after her sparkling display on Wednesday.
"It was a really tough match, a real quality one - and every time we come up against the Ferns, they're getting better and better," said Wood. "We train against our own defenders, who definitely give us a tough time - and we want to make training harder than games, so that when you come to the match against tough defenders, you know what to do."
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