Game 3 of the Constellation Cup: Diamonds vs. Silver Ferns - Updates, Scores, and Highlights.


Game 3 of the Constellation Cup: Diamonds vs. Silver Ferns – Updates, Scores, and Highlights.

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Former Diamonds sharpshooter and Fox Netball commentator Cath Cox is optimistic that Australia can overcome their recent struggles against New Zealand and potentially secure a series sweep against the Silver Ferns. This hinges on whether shooter Grace Nweke is eased back into full game play.

Nweke recently made a comeback after recovering from a knee injury that had sidelined her since the World Cup in South Africa back in July. In the match against the Diamonds in Brisbane, she took to the court for two quarters, contributing to the Ferns’ performance in their 55-46 loss.

Despite the loss, New Zealand managed to draw both quarters that featured the towering shooter, occurring in the second and fourth. Interestingly, the 21-year-old’s statistics were relatively similar to those of her replacement, the young goaler Amelia Walmsley. The crucial distinction lies in the confidence Nweke instills in her teammates.

With Nweke in the shooting circle, the Ferns’ midcourters displayed a newfound assurance and swiftness in their passes. This put the Diamonds’ defenders on high alert, allowing Kiwi captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio to focus on her own entry into the circle, thus maintaining the scoring momentum.

Cox emphasized, ‘Statistically, she may not have had a monumental impact upon reentry,’ regarding Nweke’s return from a knee ligament injury

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What Grace Nweke brings to the team is a tremendous boost of confidence, which might be lacking with players like Walmsley. The fact that the two quarters she played were the team’s best cannot be overlooked.

Nweke wasn’t initially expected to participate in the Australian leg of the tour at all, so her appearance in Brisbane was a welcome surprise, albeit intermittent in the second and fourth periods.

The extent of her involvement in Invercargill on Thursday night could be pivotal in determining whether the Diamonds can reverse their one-five record in New Zealand under coach Stacey Marinkovich.

Cath Cox weighs in on the dilemma, suggesting, ‘If it were up to me, I’d be inclined to save her for the critical moments in the last half when the pressure is on. However, falling too far behind Australia early on makes it incredibly challenging to catch up. Striking the right balance is tricky, but I believe giving her more time is imperative if they truly want to secure a win. Whether she’s ready for that yet remains uncertain.’

The Diamonds have maintained a strong lineup in the first two Tests, particularly in the shooting circle. Cara Koenen and Kiera Austin have shouldered the majority of playing time in the absence of Steph Wood, who recently retired. World Cup final hero Sophie Garbin has seen limited action in the series, while young goal attack Sophie Dwyer had a brief appearance in the closing moments in Brisbane. This dynamic is likely to shift if the Diamonds establish a solid lead on Thursday night.

Looking ahead, Austin will be phased out of the squad post the Constellation Cup, as Australia looks towards the future for its next shooting combination. Garbin and Dwyer are anticipated to receive more substantial playing time, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Cox highlights the challenge Australia faces in the goal attack position, expressing, ‘There’s a noticeable shortage of standout goal attacks for Australia. Across the Super Netball teams, it’s a position that seems to be causing a collective struggle. The absence of the astute Steph Wood will be felt. Sophie Dwyer is an exceptional goal attack for the Giants. Whether she’s prepared for the international stage at this point, given her youth, is a question mark. However, there are opportunities worth exploring, particularly with the South Africa series on the horizon. It presents a great chance to introduce fresh talent and provide them with valuable playing time.


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