KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Sept 98 (Bernama):
BY Shamila Misra
AUSTRALIA BEAT NEW ZEALAND IN PULSATING FINAL
Seven-time world champions Australia today added another feather in their cap by winning the first netball gold of the Commonwealth Games at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara, here.
The favourites scored 12-12 in the first quarter and 12-7, 7-12 and 11-8 in the subsequent quarters to win 42-39.
The "Silver Firns" put up an excellent fight, matching speed and strength of the world number one, but went down by three goals in the last crucial minutes of the match to finish with a silver.
"I am happy. We had expected a tough battle.... but we were prepared," Australian coach Jill Mc Intosh said.
"I was confident of a turn around and we overtook the opponents in the third quarter", she said.
A dissappointed Kiwi coach Yvonne Patterson said: "luck is not with us today".
Australia and New Zealand, gave an excellent performance scoring neck to neck until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Aussies got the break from good goal bound shots by their skipper and shooter Vicki Wilson and attacker Sharelle McMohon for the win.
Cheered and watched by a huge crowd, both teams began well, scoring from their centre pass till 7-7, when in the eighth minute of the first quarter Aussies gained a lead and were ahead of the Kiwis 12-10.
The 'Silver Firns' however, soon made up to finish the first quarter 12-12.
Australia scored three quick goals in the second quarter for a 3-0 lead foiling the Kiwis move for goal and led by 12-7 to a half-time score of 24-19.
In the third quarter, the "Silver Firns" showed their class, keeping the ball in their possession and outscored the champions 12-7 to level the score at 31 each.
The last quarter began with the Kiwis ahead with 4-1 but in the seventh minute Australia levelled scores to 36 each on 5-5.
The Aussies got the break only in the last four minuted of the match when excellent goal shots by Wilson and McMohon got them 11-8, a lead of three goals to win 42-39.