New Zealand has emerged victorious against Australia in the first match-up of the Constellation Cup.
The 49-44 victory to the Silver Ferns was played in front of no fans, after New Zealand’s government recently enforced a COVID-19 alert level change.
In their first international game since 2019, and just one day out of the mandated two weeks quarantine, the Diamonds struggled to score early against an experienced New Zealand defence.
With star goal attack Steph Wood out of the series due to injury, captain Caitlin Bassett and debutant Keira Austin started in the circle for the Diamonds.
However, due to a poor connection with their midcourt, the duo struggled for early scoring opportunities as the Silver Ferns opened with a four-goal lead.
New Zealand’s wing attack Gina Crampton put on a player of the match performance, with the Diamonds attempting to curb her influence on the game by bringing defender Jo Weston on.
Goal defender Courtney Bruce provided some resistance against New Zealand’s duo Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, with an interception and deflection within a few minutes, however the Diamonds continued to turn over the ball regularly throughout the entire match.
The five-goal loss marks new Diamonds’ coach Stacey Marinkovich’s first international appearance, with little turnaround time to make adjustments before game two of the series on Wednesday night.
There was some criticism leading into the first game of Marinkovich’s reluctance to select a captain or leadership group, instead choosing to give the entire team a chance to lead.
There undoubtedly will be more pressure on Marinkovich to select a permanent captain after this result, with the Diamonds struggling to connect on court.
Game two starts at 5pm AEDT.