Maria Folau and Courtney Bruce battled for the ball in the physical third test.
Maria Folau and Courtney Bruce battled for the ball in the physical third test.

Diamonds to ‘hit back hard’ against NZ

AUSTRALIAN coach Lisa Alexander says the Diamonds will be playing for pride bruised by their first loss to New Zealand in over a year and plan to "hit back hard" when they take on their old netball foes in the decider of the Constellation Cup on Thursday.

Alexander said the 11-goal loss in the third test of the series was a "good foot up the backside" for the Australians who were chasing a clean sweep of the annual series before the upset.

"Our pride has been hurt by this," said Alexander ahead of the fourth and final test match in Hamilton, New Zealand.

"There is no other way to say it. They have been given a good foot up the backside.

"I say this every time. This is the toughest series because the world's best are playing each other across four tests.

"But we need to hit back hard now."

Alexander said pre-series she wanted to test new combinations in the Constellation Cup - one of the last chances she has ahead of the World Cup in the UK in July.

Alexander has been criticised in some quarters for a rotation policy she says does not exist,

A disappointed Liz Watson, centre, after the Diamonds defeat.
A disappointed Liz Watson, centre, after the Diamonds defeat.

"I don't have one, I don't know where that comes from," she said.

 

"What I am doing is making changes to manage athletes. And you have to remember some times players are putting in great things in training and are being rewarded for that.

"This is about testing new combinations. We have had a different starting seven each game. If we don't do it now when will we?

"We have to make sure our entire team of 12 gets opportunity.''

Australia go into Thursday's game 2-1 up with New Zealand needing to win the decider by 14 goals to claim the Constellation Cup trophy.

New Zealand have not won the series since 2012 - the only time they have tasted success in the annual series which has been running since 2010.

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