Politics

Diamonds shine in beating world champs NZ


Australia’s Diamonds have made a striking statement of intent as they bid to regain their global netball domination, crushing world champions New Zealand 53-39 in their opening match of the Quad Series in London.

The Australians lost their crown to the Silver Ferns in Liverpool by a single goal back in 2019 and were also defeated 3-1 in the Constellation Cup trans-Tasman series last year, with suggestions that there could be a new order in the game.

But with coach Stacey Marinkovich adamant that the new-look Diamonds are out to “dominate at big events again”, the world’s No.1 ranked side delivered an outstanding victory at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday, inspired by a player of the match performance from wing defence star Ash Brazill.

“Delighted with that. We come from a strong history of success and we’ve got to start contributing to that – and we wanted to make sure we started taking those steps forward where we contribute to that legacy of the Diamonds,” said Marinkovich.

At the start of Commonwealth Games year, it was a perfect opening to 2022 for a team that’s been starved of international competition, having played only four times – all against New Zealand – in the last couple of years.

The trans-Tasman rivals had previously met eight times on neutral British soil, with three points or less separating the sides on each occasion, so this was a surprise blow-out with captain Liz Watson, who hadn’t played since last March because of a foot injury, leading from the front.

In a busy weekend for the Diamonds, Marinkovich says she will try out some different combinations in Sunday’s second match of the four-team tournament against South Africa on Sunday.

The Proteas were outplayed 71-47 by hosts England in the day’s first match and may be the weakest of the four sides who’ll be contending for gold,at the Games in Birmingham in July

Bursting into a 6-1 lead in the opening minutes, Australia never looked back, with their new combinations gelling efficiently in the 14-point triumph against a disjointed New Zealand outfit, with Brazill starring in defence and vice-captain Steph Wood shining in attack.

Queensland Firebirds’ Gretel Bueta went on to make 31 of her 33 shots at goal while vice-captain Wood made 19 from 22 as the Diamonds had the luxury of ringing the changes in the final quarter after trampling over the Ferns 17-8 in the third quarter.

With the aim of regaining their Commonwealth Games on the horizon, it was a perfect return to action for for a team that’s been starved of international competition, having played only four times – all against New Zealand – in the last couple of years.

The trans-Tasman rivals had previously met eight times on neutral British soil, with three points or less separating the sides on each occasion, so this was a surprise blow-out with captain Liz Watson, who hadn’t played since last March because of a foot injury, leading from the front.



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