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July 14th, 2018 by admin

Constellation Cup netball 2016: Diamonds preparing to sparkle against Silver Ferns

Looking for cohesion: The Diamonds are determined to improve on the “scratchy” performance they produced the last time they played the Silver Ferns. Photo: Scott BarbourAdmitting to collective dissatisfaction with a “scratchy” performance against New Zealand in last month’s Quad Series, the Australian Diamonds are preparing to take what they hope will be a more cohesive attacking combination into Sunday’s opening Constellation Cup Test in Sydney.
Nanjing Night Net

Returning to the court that hosted last year’s Netball World Cup final between the great trans-Tasman rivals, coach Lisa Alexander predicted that another huge crowd expected at Qudos Bank Arena would be used as “the eighth player” against the Silver Ferns.

In Melbourne a month ago, the Diamonds finished strongly to win 60-55 in a match where the lead changed 10 times. “We were a little bit scratchy last time,” Alexander said from the AIS in Canberra, where the squad arrived on Tuesday for a training camp. “We didn’t really hit our full straps until probably only the last five minutes of that game when we composed ourselves and went ahead with it, and I guess we’re all a little bit frustrated by that.

“However, the Silver Ferns have improved – again – have a very experienced centre court and they are a difficult opponent … Basically we just need to make sure we’re not making those early errors in attack and just keeping the scoreboard pressure on. I think we let them off the hook a few times in that match when we really should have put the foot down, and we didn’t.”

Alexander admitted it had been a little surprising that the recall of wing attack Madi Robinson after a knee reconstruction had not been as “seamless” as expected, despite her previous experience with centre Kim Ravaillion and shooters Caitlin Bassett and Nat Medhurst.

“We thought the connections might have happened a little bit easier, because that group had played together two years ago, but it just goes to show that you can’t take that for granted,” Alexander said. “So that’s why we’re focusing on that very heavily at camp.”

With captain and goalkeeper Laura Geitz’s pregnancy now public knowledge, and fellow defender Clare McMeniman heading towards retirement, there are also adjustments to be made in the Sharni Layton-led defence. Layton’s new Collingwood teammate, April Letton, twice made an impact off the bench in the Quad Series, while Vixen Jo Weston comes into the squad for recent debutante Kristiana Manu’a.

Goal attack Gretel Tippett has also been included, for Steph Wood, as Alexander seeks to give exposure and opportunities to emerging players, while not losing sight of the other objective: winning.

“We don’t take that for granted,” she said. “This is our [Australian] Sports Commission benchmark event, as far as our measures are concerned, and we want to maintain our ranking of No.1 which puts us in the best pool for our tournament events, so that’s very important as well. We’re going to be trying to win every game, as we do, but we also know we’ve got to expose the depth that we have in our 12, and we want to do that, too.”

New Zealand will be without wing defence Kayla Cullen, but have regained experienced pair Maria Tutaia and Anna Harrison.

Launceston, Auckland and Invercargill will host the final three Tests.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.