27/02/2024

The Australian Diamonds preparing to face Barbados in their first match of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (Picture: Australian Diamonds/Twitter)

The Australian Diamonds came into the Commonwealth Games as the team to watch off the back of some incredible form shown in the domestic SSN competition. In their first group game against Barbados, the Diamonds showcased their class on a tough night for their opposition.

The final score of 95-18 shows the absolute dominance of the netball powerhouse, with the Diamonds rotating 11 out of 12 players throughout the match. Experienced midcourter Paige Hadley missed out as she manages a minor leg injury.

Playing in goal shooter rather than goal attack, Gretel Bueta was a little off in the first quarter. She then soon got on top of the Barbadian defenders and showed every inch of her class and experience in the circle alongside Steph Wood.

Gretel Bueta was key to the Diamonds’ triumphant revenge over the Silver Ferns. (Photo: Australian Diamonds/Twitter)

Bueta shot 44/48 for the match and Wood (10/15), which was uncharacteristically inaccurate for them. The duo were key early in converting defensive turnovers and midcourt efforts.

Vice-captain Wood paired well with captain Liz Watson, who played at wing attack. Wood and Watson were key in feeding the ball into the hot hands of Bueta and Kate Moloney. The midcourt stifled any flow that the Barbadian team were trying to create to get to goal.

In the first half, goalkeeper Courtney Bruce took advantage of the lesser match-up pulling in intercepts and getting her hands to more of the ball. Known for her physical play, Bruce stayed in play for most of the match recording only six contacts and four obstructions.

Australian Diamonds captain Liz Watson (Photo: Australian Diamonds)

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In the second half with the Diamonds cruising to victory leading 52 to 9, head coach Stacey Marinkovich decided to mix up her combinations and test the bench.

Cara Koenen paired up with Kiera Austin at goal shooter and goal attack respectively, they formed the same pairing from the 2021 Constellation Cup. Koenen was relatively accurate with 35 goals from 38 shots with Austin shooting six shots with 100 per cent efficiency.

This pushed Wood into wing attack to pair with Ash Brazill, who took the centre bib from Moloney, which pushed Sunday Aryang into wing defence. This versatility within the squad and the existing chemistry in some combinations at league level should make every team fear the Diamonds outfit.

The Australian Diamonds will face Scotland on Saturday Night (Australian time).

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