Diamonds issue warning ahead of series opener

Constellation Cup Game 4Australia Diamonds v New Zealand Silver FernsAustralian coach Lisa Alexander has issued a warning on the eve of 2014 Constellation Cup series that her Diamonds still have plenty of room to improve despite a 13-game international winning streak.

It’s been over 12 months since the Diamonds last dropped an international Test, dating back to the corresponding fixture last year when the Silver Ferns claimed the first Test of the 2013 series, 55-51.

Australia hasn’t looked back since that loss in Invercargill, beating New Zealand in the remaining four Tests to reclaim the Constellation Cup in 2013 before going on to win Commonwealth Games gold undefeated in August.

“I believe we’ve got more improvement to come,” Alexander said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we’ve hit our straps by any measure, we know that we’ve got areas that we need to keep working on, particularly around penalties and making sure that we’re not getting penalised for our contested ball.

“We’re working hard to make sure we’re in front and getting clean intercepts so we’ll keep working on that, especially on Thursday.”

Invercargill hasn’t been a happy hunting ground of the Australians with the Diamonds winning just one of three previous Tests in New Zealand’s south, winning by one-goal in 2009.

With her side brimming with confidence following Australia’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in twelve years, Alexander believes history can again be re-written on Thursday night against the Silver Ferns.

“A lot of changes have occurred since (the defeat last year) and we’ve got a lot of confidence in this group, we can dwell on the past and use that as an excuse but it means nothing,” Alexander said.

“It’s a matter of being hard with each other and preparing really well for this contest.”

Diamonds midcourter Kimberlee Green is expecting the Silver Ferns to bounce back in the first meeting between the two sides since the 18-goal gold medal victory in Glasgow.

“We’re expecting nothing but the best from the Silver Ferns tomorrow, we always except the Ferns to come out firing, we know how hard they come back after a loss so we’ll be expecting that on court,” Green said.

The 2014 Constellation Cup begins on Thursday when the Silver Ferns host the Australian Diamonds at ILT Stadium Southlands, Invercargill, at 4.30pm (AEST). Catch the 2014 Constellation Cup live on FOX SPORTS, SBS 2 and ABC Grandstand.