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  • Rikki Lambert

Diamonds' first game on home soil for years restores focus on the court



The Diamonds have delivered a dominant showing amidst the sponsorship drama involving Netball Australia, crushing Constellation Cup foes New Zealand 62-47.


Showing a steely focus, Australia banked a stunning 15-point win in their Constellation Cup netball series against the Silver Ferns on Wednesday.


After two losses in New Zealand, talk of rifts within the playing group swirled after they were embroiled in a sponsorship saga involving mining giant Hancock Prospecting.


Billionaire Gina Rinehart's company logo was expected to feature on their uniforms through the series but after opposition from Indigenous player Donnell Wallam, who was supported by her teammates, it only featured on a press conference background banner in Melbourne.


Netball Australia say they are continuing to work with Wallam to address her concerns surrounding Hancock Prospecting's historical stance towards the Indigenous community.


The Diamonds were able to put that aside in their first home game in over 1000 days to thrash New Zealand 62-47, obliterating the 12-point aggregate advantage of their rivals heading into game three.


Now the Australians only need to win the fourth and final Test at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on Sunday night to wrest back the trophy they lost last year.


Playing a holding shooter role, Sophie Garbin shone in her first ever start in the position scoring 34 goals from 38 attempts, with Steph Wood chiming in with 28 from 35.


Defenders Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce teamed up to limit Kiwi shooting ace Grace Nweke to 30 goals.


Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich said the connection of the players was evident in their dominant performance.

"There's outside noise I think nobody can underestimate or understand the connection that is within our high-performance group.
"We are very proud to represent Netball Australia, to be in the uniform and we're very good at having good collaborative conversations to shape the direction that we want to continue to take the sport and how we play the game. 
"The unity that's within - you can't go out there and play the way we did (without it), it wasn't about proving anything to anyone else, it was about our own improvement."

Senior Diamond Kate Moloney said while the players had shown unity off the court, standing by Wallam, they also wanted to be at their best in front of home fans after two below-par showings in New Zealand.

"We came together and performance was our focus this week," the centre star said. 
"We've shown that we have some great strength off the court and we wanted to show how strong we were on the court and I think the girls did a really good job of putting performance at the forefront of our minds.
"We wanted to play our Diamonds way - we moved the ball really fast and we brought the heat in defence as well. "

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