The Origin Diamonds took a clean sweep of the test series against the English Roses with a hard-fought 57-53 win in Test 3.
Stacey Marinkovich’s pre-match instruction to the Diamonds was to go out hard in the first 5 minutes. And that they did, with every player running down loose balls and applying hands over pressure right the way down the court.
In the beginning, the Diamonds easily found their target in Donnell Wallam who was holding beautifully at midrange and dropping right under the post thanks to pin-point feeds from Paige Hadley and Kate Moloney.
7minutes in, the Diamonds had run out to a 12-4 lead which forced Roses coach, Jess Thirlby to ring in some changes. Layla Guscoth entered the game at goal defence with fan-favourite Funmi Fadoju shifted back to keeper where her elevation, quick feet and tenacity made near immediate impact by forcing Wallam to get on the move.
Maddy Turner got her first taste of court time this series, when she started at goal defence for the Diamonds. The Swifts defender brought a lot of energy in the first 15 minutes and combined well with Courtney Bruce at the back. Though in the second quarter, her presence was somewhat nullified by English goal attack Sophie Drakeford-Lewis who quite effectively drew Turner away from the circle where she was less impactful.
The Diamonds tested new combinations during the match, with every team member taking the court at some point. With a revolving door of shooters, and more intense defensive pressure from the Roses, match MVP Hadley acknowledged they had challenges.
“At times Funmi obviously has hops which is about placement for us. We should have used that fake a bit more and sort of craft where she is going to go. But I think all of our shooters did well. Sophie Dwyer came on and was really calm and took that front sweep quite early to open up two options. Sophie Garbin we probably put under too much pressure. We know she has got hops as well. It is about adapting but they all came on well and used their strengths.
“For us feeders, it’s about getting to circle edge so we can get the confidence into the shooters. The more confident we are to give the ball, the more confident they are. But if we can give 100% feeds, not the 50/50’s the better. If we force it, we’re giving the defender more opportunities.”
Despite the blistering start by the Diamonds, they lost consistency in the second half. Speaking after the match, coach Stacey Marinkovich acknowledged this was something which needed a lot of work.
“We had a lot of changes today as well which probably ramped up a bit of pressure. But we wanted to see what depth we had. We wanted to see what variety we could play with, whether it be strategy or personnel. Now we just need to take those learnings and apply them consistently.”
From the second quarter onwards, the Roses found more connection and tidied up their turnovers. They also tidied up their defensive pressure and drew less whistle which produced crucial gains.
Speaking after the match, Cardwell said this was something she and her teammates try to work on.
“For me, I adjust the small things. It might be a tiny little angle or the timing of the pass and really trying to get out of the umpire’s head. If they call something, you know you need to adjust. It might be knowing to keep your hand by your side for certain for the next one. Just keep solid in there. The call might come your way if you keep the umpire on your side. We’re always talking, having open conversations that is going to help us get through the next quarter or the next passage of play. We’re always adjusting all the way through the court.”
In terms of stats, there wasn’t much separating the Diamonds and Roses. Although the Diamonds had more time in possession, the game may have come came down to their willingness to hunt down loose balls and convert with the Diamonds collecting 22 loose ball pickups to the Roses 8.
Speaking after the game, Thirlby noted that while they are extremely disappointed to not take at least one win out of this series, she is pleased with the lessons they learned.
“We have had to do some hard and fast learning between matches. We like that challenge of learning quick. We went into game two expecting the Aussies to get stronger, particularly in the midcourt. We knew the ball speed would be up. We knew they had the options to switch between the holding shooters and the rotating shooters. And that took us too long to adjust too, despite knowing it was coming.
Tonight was great because we had to do it (get back into the game) a hard way, a different way. I think a lot would have written our team off, particularly against a quality side like the Diamonds. So, I think to push ourselves back in, to at least get a foothold, even a little bit, got us psychologically back in the game. I think there was a lot to be proud of. I expected the Diamonds to turn the screw on us being 9 goals up. So, I think to give ourselves even half a chance is great. It shows grit and determination. That doesn’t mean we are happy to not be going home with at least a win. We are frustrated. But there is a lot where we can genuinely go home and think for longer periods, we now know some of what works against the number one in the world.”
Donnell Wallam – 25/26 (96%)
Kiera Austin – 9/11 (82%)
Sophie Garbin – 14/18 (78%)
Sophie Dwyer – 9/10 (90%)
Eleanor Cardwell – 38/40 (95%)
Sophie Drakeford-Lewis – 12/13 (92%)
Helen Housby – 3/4 (75%)
NETFIT PLAY OF THE DAY – CENTRE PASS DEEP CROSS
One thing which the Diamonds did exceptionally well in the first quarter was mixup their attacking plays. Wing attack Paige Hadley and goal attack Kiera Austin shared the centre passes and one a few occasions played a deep cross with one drawing both defenders so the other could take the centre while the other cut across for the second phase. It’s a very effective way of opening up the circle.
Watch the below NETFIT Netball video learn how to implement the deep cross with your team. For more great video content and coaching tips, download the NETFIT Netball App now.
WHERE TOO FROM HERE
Both teams are now disassembling as they head straight into domestic preseason training. For El Cardwell that’s a new Aussie adventure, as she excitedly meets her Adelaide Thunderbirds teammates for the first time.
The Roses will meet again in November for a couple of training camps to prep and apply learnings from this and the Uganda series. They will also look to introduce a few new athletes to the program.
Then in January, the Roses will meet again for a series at home which will then lead straight into the Quad series.
Thirlby relishes the idea of having her Roses in such a tense environment for most of January.
“We are not in such a fortunate position with fulltime athletes. So our Roses program is precious and our time together is precious. I am looking forward to seeing what we can put out in January, knowing that our rivals will have improved to. So great challenges lay ahead.’
The Diamonds are in much the same position with each team member having a short break and then heading straight into preseason for the Suncorp Super Netball.
Stacey Marinkovich joked that she is yet to see the roadmap for her next few months to know when she has any downtime, as she is heading off to the AIS next week for a Leaders in Sport conference.
The Diamonds too, will come together before the Quad Series, though no camp has been officially confirmed yet.
For both sides, the Quad Series will likely be the last taste of international netball before they potentially meet again at the 2023 Netball World Cup.