Diamonds shine in beating world champs NZ

·3-min read

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 Diamonds 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 there was now a new order in the game.

But with coach Stacey Marinkovich adamant the 11-times world champs are out to "dominate at big events again", the No.1 ranked Diamonds delivered an outstanding victory on Saturday.

There was no sign of rust at the Copper Box Arena at the start of Commonwealth Games year among a team starved of international competition, having played only four times - all against NZ - in the last couple of years.

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

They were inspired by a player of the match contribution from wing defence Ash Brazill, the multi-talented Collingwood AFLW midfielder whose non-stop energy and drive around the court to snuff out numerous New Zealand attacks was a stand-out.

"It's so nice to be back in the green and gold," said Brazill, making her first appearance since 2019 after injury woes

"We're a very new group so I think we started strong and continued that through the whole game. It's good to see what we've been working on works."

Having a strong Diamonds team back in business was good for the sport, reckoned Brazill.

"It's what the netball community needs," she said.

"In Australia, there's so many young girls who can't play netball at the moment because of COVID. I'm sure it's the same around the world, so it's so nice for everyone around to see the Diamonds back on court."

The teams had previously met eight times on neutral British soil, with three points or less separating the sides on each occasion, so the extent of the Diamonds' mastery was a surprise.

"Look, we got a schooling - they were very good, definitely got to pay them that respect," conceded New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua.

It was a terrific afternoon too for Diamonds' captain Liz Watson, who hadn't played since last March because of a foot injury, but led from the front.

Bursting into a 6-1 lead in the opening minutes, Australia's new combinations gelled quickly, with Brazill starring in defence, and both vice-captain Steph Wood and Queensland Firebirds' Gretel Bueta revelling in the shooting circle.

Bueta ended up making 31 of her 33 shots at goal while Wood was 19 from 22 as the Diamonds could afford to ring wholesale changes in the final 15 minutes after trampling over the Ferns 17-8 in the third quarter.

Marinkovich plans to try out different combinations in Sunday's (Monday morning AEDT) second match of the four-team tournament against South Africa as Australia continue the defence of the Quad title they won in 2019.

South Africa were outplayed 71-47 in the opening match by hosts England.

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