The Australian Diamonds are aiming to stamp their authority on the 2015 Constellation Cup by claiming an unassailable series lead tonight in Auckland.
Leading the four-Test series 1-0 following a six-goal victory in Christchurch on Tuesday, the Diamonds will be out to make a clean sweep of the New Zealand leg before returning home for the final two Tests in Melbourne and Perth.
“It’s vitally important for us to win this match,” Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said on Thursday morning.
“I’ve put the challenge to the group that we really want to leave tomorrow having won both games and really stamping our authority on this series.
“But we know we’ve got a great opponent and they aren’t going to lie down so it’s up to us to make that happen and we need to do that with our disciplined approach on court.”
The Diamonds head into the second Test without acting vice-captain Renae Ingles for the first time this year after the midcourter sustained a calf strain in the opening Test.
While disappointed to lose her leader, Alexander believes the injury has a silver lining.
“Renae’s injury brings a variation to our line up and that’s a good thing – it enables us to experiment,” Alexander said.
“While we don’t want Renae injured and it’s disappointing that she’s not out there, it presents us with a wonderful opportunity for a Gabi Simpson, Clare McMeniman or Sharni Layton, who does play wing defence as well.
“It gives us variation and keeps us unpredictable.”
The first Test victory was a good omen to the Diamonds’ Constellation Cup defence with four of the past five winners of the opening game going on to claim the series.
Alexander admitted there’s still plenty of room for improvement in the second Test despite the 50-44 victory in the opening game.
“We still haven’t achieved our target of winning all four quarters, we won three and drew one (in the first Test), so we really want to win all four,” Alexander said.
“We also threw a lot of ball away and I think it was silly ball, which we’ve addressed.”
The Australian Diamonds take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the second Test of the Constellation Cup at Vector Arena on Thursday night from 5.30pm (AEDT).
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