Diamonds seek Constellation Cup clean sweep

_MCA4923LiNothing less than a clean sweep of the Constellation Cup series against New Zealand will satisfy the Australian Diamonds.

The Diamonds head into the fourth and final Test of the series in Auckland on Wednesday night holding a 3-0 lead over the Silver Ferns after wins at Invercargill (59-42), Melbourne (49-40) and Sydney (47-34).

Since the Constellation Cup was first awarded in 2010 neither Australia nor New Zealand have made a clean sweep of the series. The past two installments, in 2012 and last year, resulted in 4-1 results.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said although her team has wrapped up the series, they’ll be treating this last Test the same as they did the opening match a fortnight ago.

“We’re going to stick with our process which is to make sure put out on court a team that we think will win us the game,” Alexander said at training on Tuesday.

“Players have to earn their spots so training today is very important.”

Wing defence Renae Hallinan said the Diamonds know the Auckland crowd will get right behind the Silver Ferns as they try and end Australia’s eight-match winning streak against them.

“We know that the New Zealand crowd will come out and be very vocal and get behind the Silver Ferns, which makes it that little bit tougher for us,” Hallinan said.

“They’re certainly that extra player for them. In their last Test match against us for quite some time, they’ll be wanting to put out a good performance and certainly won’t want the series to be a clean sweep.

“So they’ll be doing their best to stop us doing that. We would love to clean sweep the series and that’s obviously the aim.”

The team’s current 16-game winning streak isn’t a factor, according to Alexander.

“We’re going to keep the foot firmly on the accelerator and keep going and we need to be mindful that we’ve got things that we want to achieve as a group and one of them is that you don’t take winning for granted,” Alexander said.

“We really want to make sure that we win every game and really put the best performance out on the court every time we play, it’s a determined group so as coach I need to keep them set on that focus.”

Hallinan said what’s motivating every player in the team is the belief that they all can improve some areas of their games, both individually and as a team.

“There’s been some fabulous individual performances all across the court this series and the scary thing is everyone has room for improvement,” Hallinan declared.

“That’s certainly something that Lisa drills into us; we can always improve our performances and we as a group all believe in that.

“That’s the best thing about this team at the moment. We’re all thoroughly enjoying what we’re doing and certainly supporting each other on and off the court.”

Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman has come into the team to replace Rebecca Bulley for the remaining Constellation Cup match and two-Test series against England.

Auckland will host the final Test of the 2014 Constellation Cup when the Silver Ferns and Diamonds line up at The Trusts Arena on Wednesday night from 5.30pm (AEDT). Catch it live on FOX SPORTS, SBS 2 and ABC Grandstand.