Donnell Wallam celebrating her match winning goal. (Photo: Australian Diamonds/Twitter)

Game one of the three-test series between the Diamonds and the England Roses was one to remember with the game going down to the wire.

The Diamonds were behind by the pack in the second quarter, with all the momentum going the way of the Roses but were able to lodge a comeback going into halftime trailing by just one goal.

It was a different lineup from the Constellation Cup, with Paige Hadley captaining the side and she led from the front in the middle.

Kate Moloney was strong in wing defence after coming on at halftime, with a match-saving deflection which led to Donnell Wallam’s match-winning goal.

Donnell Wallam you star

In what is sure to be one of the best Diamonds debuts in recent history, Donnell Wallam became Diamond #189 last night and her debut performance was nothing short of spectacular.

Coming on in the last quarter after England defender Funmi Fadoju started to get the upper hand in the goal circle. Wallam settled into the game quite quickly, with her first possession in international netball being a goal.

Wallam’s ability to hold space proved to make a huge difference in the last half of the final quarter and although Fadoju still got her hands on the ball, it was Wallam that ultimately got the upper hand.

As the saying goes, pressure makes diamonds and Wallam’s ability to score the match-winning goal in the dying seconds of the match proves that she’ll be in the green and gold dress for a long time.

Dynamic Roses defence

It’s a new era of Roses defence with Francesca Williams and Funmi Fadoju creating a dangerous combination for the second half of Wednesday night’s match.

Francesca Williams got the start in goal defence, pairing up with Roses legend Geva Mentor and was able to win plenty of balls back for her side, finishing the match with three intercepts, which included back-to-back intercepts when the ball came down the Roses’ defensive end.

Fadoju came onto the court during the third quarter as the goalkeeper and made an impact almost instantly. Despite standing at 176cm, her athleticism to get her fingertips to the ball and regain possession back for her team was a highlight.

Fadoju finished the game with three intercepts and played a vital role in the Roses’ comeback in the last quarter, causing plenty of havoc for the Diamonds alongside Williams.

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No Liz, No worries

There were a few concerns coming into this series to see how the Diamonds would go without captain Liz Watson, who has been a mainstay in the Diamonds’ midcourt since her debut back in 2016. 

Enter the likes of Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley, who were dominant in the Diamonds midcourt for the entire game. At halftime, Stacey Marinkovich switched Proud into wing attack and Hadley into centre and the moves worked wonders.

Proud was able to use her speed to get deep into the second phase and was even able to get fingertips to plenty of balls in the middle third. Proud finished the match with 36 feeds, 26 goal assists, and three intercepts.

While Hadley finished the match with 13 goal assists and 21 feeds, with the pre-existing connection with goaler Sophie Garbin shining through in the opening three quarters.

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Eleanor Cardwell dominates

In her 50th international match, Roses goaler Eleanor Cardwell once again proved to be a dominant force inside the Roses’ goal circle. Cardwell was dominant from the first whistle, with Diamonds defenders struggling to nullify her impact.

Cardwell was strong under the post and extremely accurate, shooting 44 goals at 91 per cent. She was able to create a strong partnership with Helen Housby, as Cardwell was able to open up the space for Housby if she wasn’t the one to take the ball herself with a stronghold.

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Penalties almost prove costly for Diamonds

One thing that the Diamonds would be looking to fix up before the next test against the Roses will be the penalty count, as they gave away a total of 76 penalties compared to the Roses’ 52.

Half of the Diamonds’ penalties came in the goal circle. Between the three circle defenders that took the court, there were 38 penalties between them.

With such a dominant goal circle pairing in Housby and Cardwell to come up against, the Diamonds’ defence will need to stay in play and limit the penalty count.

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