Diamonds fight hard, but Silver Ferns too good again

The Australian Diamonds came out firing after a torrid loss on Wednesday night in the opening match of the Constellation Cup.

It was a hot start, as Cara Koenen and Steph Wood fought hard in the circle, creating movement to an attacking circle that was stagnant in its last outing.

The Australians led at quarter time, and at half time, as they matched the intensity of the Silver Ferns early.

Diamonds' coach Stacey Marinkovich spoke after the game about her team's early intensity, and her disappointment that they weren't able to take full advantage.

"If you see in the game, we are getting the same amount of attempts," Marinkovich said.

"We'd certainly like more, and I thought we had opportunities early to put some real scoreboard pressure on. Collectively we came out strong defensively, and in attack, we had some good movement.

"It's about building that level of consistency and understanding when New Zealand change their defence or it steps up another notch, we've got to find ways to keep up that ball speed."

The Diamonds did struggled when they came out of the half time break, conceding an extra six goals in the third quarter, a gap that proved too much to overcome.

Diamonds captain Liz Watson spoke after the game about that disappointment in the third term.

"We wanted that strong start, we didn't have that [on Wednesday], and then we got that [today]," Watson said.

"To come out at half time and not have that same intent and power is disappointing. When the first two goals straight to them, you're already on the back foot.

"We talked about turnovers, once we get this, we can keep rolling. Once that happened, we just needed to find something to keep pushing and get ourselves out of that."

The Diamonds dominated the other three quarters, but it wasnt enough to pull back the lead, and they will trail 2-0 in the series before the return to Australia.

For Australia, there were learnings, despite the outcome. Marinkovich noted that Silver Ferns shooter Grace Nweke, who was named player of the match, is such a dominant force that it requires the attention of the enitre team.

"When you've got a target like Grace [Nweke] at the back, you can't afford to give New Zealand easy access to the circle's edge, because she's such a focal point.

"Obviously, Ameliaranne [Ekenasio] is a threat to post as well, so to be a force against New Zealand, you have to have collective team attack, team defence as they are demonstrating at the moment."

One of the other bright spots for the Diamonds was the introduction of three new players. Maddy Proud made her first appearance in the second quarter, slotting into centre, after years of waiting for her opportunity.

Marinkovich explained the impact that having three debutants in a game (and a fourth earlier in the week) was having on the squad and the training group.

"Sometimes you get people named into the 12, and they don't usually get on to the court in their first game.

"I thought the fact that they were coming into their first game and getting straight onto court, one shows the confidence that the group has in them, but also what they've been doing in the training environment.

"Its great to put them out there and to see the impact, and see what that looks like, and how do we evolve that into combinations for longer periods of time."

Not long into the third quarter, Sophie Dwyer also made her first appearance, taking the goal attack bib from Steph Wood. The young Giant looked at home immediately, showing off her trademark cool demeanour as she shot accurately from range.

Ruby Bakewell-Doran was the third debutant, joining the defensive circle late in the third, and making an impact with her aggressive attack on the ball.

For Watson, the debutants were great, but the overall performance was also something to smile about.

"Really proud of the start because its something we'd spoken about, because last start wasn't great at all," she said.

"To do that was great, but you've got to do it for 60 minutes against the Silver Ferns."

And so the Diamonds will rue their 15 minute lapse against the Silver Ferns tonight. They will have opportunity to make amends on Wednesday, as the series heads to Melbourne.