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Australia vs Northern Ireland
2018 Commonwealth Games netball, April 5
|Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre|
The Australian Diamonds will take on Northern Ireland in their first match of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Join The Roar for live coverage and a blog of the match from 8:30pm (AEST).
This game will merely be a formality for the talented and balanced Australian line-up. They will be far too strong for Northern Ireland, who are playing at the Commonwealth Games for only the second time. Their first appearance was in Glasgow, four years ago.
The Diamonds have a chance to dust off the cobwebs before they take on tougher opponents later in the competition.
It is an exciting opportunity for six players who will make their Commonwealth Games debut in the green and gold. April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Joanna Weston, Gabrielle Simpson, Elizabeth Watson and Stephanie Wood will all take to the court as Australia gets their campaign underway.
Diamonds fans will be excited to see veteran goalkeeper Laura Geitz back in Aussie colours after she earned a recall into the national squad. Geitz hasn’t played in international competition for a couple of years and missed the 2017 domestic season due to the birth of her son.
While Northern Ireland have qualified for the next World Cup, and are becoming a more frequent player in the international game, they are not yet at the same level as the Quad-Series countries (Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand).
Captain Caroline O’Hanlon had flag bearing duties at the opening ceremony last night. She is a cross-code star, playing both Gaelic football and netball, and she proudly led her country’s 88 athletes into Carrara Stadium.
The Australians will have a definite home crowd advantage, with the session sold out well in advance. It should be an awesome atmosphere.
While the first game of a competition is never easy to predict, the Diamonds are clear favourites to take gold. These early games will be a chance to test combinations, run plays, and find form going into the finals.
Expect Australia to come out strong from the word go, to play hard and not let up until the final whistle sounds.
Australia by 19 goals.