Australia's women have secured an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match Rose Bowl series, by defeating New Zealand by 40 runs in the fifth encounter at Melbourne. Australia's stars were Karen Rolton, whose unbeaten 95 established a tough target of 240, and the medium-pacer Julie Hayes, who picked up 4 for 31 in her ten overs.
After winning the toss and batting first, Australia were given a steady start by Belinda Clark and Lisa Sthalekar, who added 48 for the first wicket in 11 overs. But when Rolton came to the crease, the tempo gradually shifted upwards, and her third-wicket stand of 116 with Melanie Jones formed the backbone of the innings.
New Zealand's left-armer Rebecca Steele pegged Australia back with a tight spell and deservedly claimed two quick wickets as Jones was snapped up by Aimee Mason for 57 and Kris Britt chipped up a return catch for 7, but Alexandra Blackwell was on hand to give the innings a thumping finish with 15 from 14 balls.
New Zealand launched their reply with a 64-run stand for the first wicket, and were on course to pull the series back to 3-2 and give themselves everything to play for in the final match at Hobart on Friday. But three wickets fell for nine runs, two of them to Hayes, and the momentum was lost. Haidee Tiffen did her best to haul the innings around with a hard-earned 44, and Mason cracked 30 from 20 balls, but another late clatter of wickets sealed the series for Australia.