Power outage can't stop Diamonds' continued trans-Tasman dominance

Players look on, as the lights turn off temporarily during the third quarter Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Not even a brief power outage could stop the Australian Diamonds in the opening match of the Constellation Cup, with the World Champions claiming a 10-goal win over the Silver Ferns to go 1-0 in the series.

John Cain Arena was buzzing in what was the Diamonds first hit out since claiming gold at the Netball World Cup with over 9,000 fans coming along to watch a strong, competitive opening game with the Diamonds pressure on song from the first whistle.

That pressure was led by Diamonds defender Courtney Bruce who set the tone early and finished the match with three intercepts and one deflection; a performance coach Stacey Marinkovich praised post-match with Bruce going head-to-head with newly capped Silver Fern Amelia Walmsley for the first half.

"I thought she was getting out for ball," Marinkovich told the media.

"Obviously when you come up against somebody different that you haven't played you've got to get a sense of what they like to do. I thought she got stuck on the body a little bit but then started to really move her feet and then I think the partnership in the circle started to grow."

Another Diamond that had a strong performance was Kate Moloney, who rejoined the squad after being named a traveling reserve for the World Cup. Moloney was injected into centre for Paige Hadley who went off after a collison with Silver Fern Maddy Gordon. The transition was seamless, adding an extra element into the Diamonds attacking third which seemed to open the game up.

"Obviously she [Moloney] might say she's blowing but she runs pretty hard, she's one of the fittest in the group.

"I think she knows the game plan, she certainly runs really hard, she let the ball go and you could see that the way she was able to inject also defensively across that line I think it just stalled them [the Silver Ferns] a little bit more.

For Moloney, she was just keen to get back out on court for the first time since the Vixens Super Netball campaign came to a close and to play the Sliver Ferns for the first time since the Quad Series final back in January.

"I think just jumping straight into it, that we knew the Ferns were going to bring it tonight," Moloney said.

"We haven't played them for a little while as well, so it was great to be able to get out there and play them again. I think the scoreline was probably a bit bigger than what it felt out there, it felt like it was goal for goal and they were on us the whole time.

"It was good contest."

The crowd was on edge after the collision between Hadley and Gordon saw the newly minted Diamonds vice captain clutching at her knee, but Marinkovich said that she got the all clear to return to court if she was needed.

"She got the full clearence," Marinkovich said. "So it was a little bit of a tweak to the knee just sort of extended, but we needed to make sure so now we've got a fresh player to add to the mix next time.

"We got the clearance but as Kate entered the game, I thought she was running the ball hard so we kept with the change."

From a Silver Ferns perspective, it was a disappointing performance but as Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio explained it's the last piece of the puzzle that New Zealand were lacking in the series opener.

"I think we've got heaps more to give which is not a great feeling for now," Ekenasio said. "I'm feeling like we didn't get it all out on court, just can't wait for game two. Like I have that kind of feeling that I want to get out there already so hopefully the group feels like that as well.

"Some really good things but we just needed a little bit more and it's just those a couple little things that are just like it's a final connection pass or that little piece that's missing.

"We just need to be a little bit bigger in those moments and more patient with the ball but it's little things, it's not big things."

Nineteen year old Amelia Walmsley (21/25 goals) had a strong performance at goal shooter in the absence of Grace Nweke with the match proving to be arguably the biggest challenge for her to date, in what was her third game in the black dress. Ekenasio was proud of Walmsley's performance and said that she'll take plenty out of Thursday night's game.

"We always knew this was going to be a real big game for her. You don't know what it's like to play Australia until you actually play them so I think she'll take away heaps of learnings and that's pretty much it.

"She's a fast learner, she's a sponge as well because she's so keen to learn so I have no doubt that there's some big things for her to learn from here but was really super proud of her as well.

"She's somebody who who's happy to turn and shoot so I think that that's awesome and that's exactly what we need from her as well."

The Constellation Cup comes at a weird time for the Diamonds players, with disputes still in play between the Players' Association and Netball Australia for a CBA. Every Super Netball player (Diamonds included) had their contract expire at the end of last month, but Moloney said that this series has got the playing group's full focus.

"I think whenever we come into this Diamonds environment it's about being 100 percent in and 100 percent focused," Moloney said.

"I think as players we have full trust in the Players' Association that they're going to keep fighting and doing what they need to do. But for us as Diamond players we're here, we're 100 percent in and fingers crossed things can get resolved really quickly."

The Diamonds will now set their focus on Game 2 in Brisbane before the series continues in New Zealand for the final two matches.