Diamonds look to turn up the heat
Australia want to turn up the heat in the second Test in Auckland on Thursday night as they try to keep their three-match netball series against New Zealand alive.
The Diamonds’ grip on the Constellation Cup was loosened on Sunday when they fell to a 54-52 defeat in Melbourne.
The Silver Ferns now have two chances on home soil to clinch the series and take possession of a trophy that has been in opposition hands since it was first up for grabs two years ago.
Experienced Australian defender Mo’onia Gerrard says an expected 8850 capacity crowd at Vector Arena will see a different Diamonds side in terms of intensity.
This would be especially so on defence, she said on Wednesday.
“We do need to be a little aggressive on to the ball and at least get a few turnovers for our attackers to have a couple more shots than the opposition,” she said.
The Diamonds actually did put up more shots than the Silver Ferns in Melbourne.
However, the accuracy of New Zealand shooters Irene van Dyk and Maria Tutaia, who shot at 97 and 90 per cent respectively, proved telling.
The 31-year-old Gerrard, who operated at wing defence, said countering van Dyk and Tutaia had to happen before the ball reached them.
“Maria is a bit of a gun out there, and also Irene, and I would love to have them in my team as well, because these girls can shoot 90-plus consistently,” she said.
“The only way we can combat that is stopping the ball going in and hopefully our girls get more of a chance under the post.
While the Australia-New Zealand match-up is the biggest in international netball, the Diamonds haven’t lost a series to their trans-Tasman rivals since 2004.
They kept the streak alive last October by coming back from a first-up defeat in Perth to win in Adelaide and Melbourne.
That result is ensuring New Zealand go into the remainder of the present series with their feet firmly on the ground.
“We were 1-0 up last year, so we’re mindful that we’ve been here before,” coach Waimarama Taumaunu said.
“The main thing for us is we’ve been putting things on court that we’ve been practising and we want to continue to do that.”
The final Test is in Christchurch on Sunday night.© AAP 2013